▶ Watch Video: Surfside mayor says rest of condo building to be demolished “as soon as possible”

Washington — Charles Burkett, the mayor of Surfside, Florida, said Sunday that the remainder of the partially collapsed condominium building that is still standing could be demolished “as soon as possible,” which will allow rescue crews to continue their efforts to locate victims of last month’s collapse. 

“The fact that the building is being prepared to be demolished has stopped the work, which is critical,” Burkett said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “We need to get back to work as soon as possible. We need to get this building taken down and we need to move forward with the rescue of all those people that are still left in the rubble.”

Burkett said that as of Sunday morning, demolition teams were 80% complete with preparations to bring down the portion of Champlain Towers South that is still intact and did not rule out the demolition occurring later in the day.

The plan for the demolition is to bring the building down in a westward direction, which will hopefully leave the pile of debris from the collapse unaffected, he said. Once the remainder of the condo building is brought down, Burkett said the area will be more widely open, allowing resources to flood into the site.

“We are going to attack it big time and we are going to try to pull those victims out and reunite them with their families,” he said.

Search and rescue operations were paused Saturday to allow crews to prepare to demolish the remaining structure as Tropical Storm Elsa moves closer to the state, potentially hurting rescue efforts. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a press conference Saturday that engineers hoped to complete the demolition before the storm makes landfall.

Officials said Saturday that the death toll from the collapse remained at 24, with 121 people still unaccounted for.

With rescue efforts stretching into their 11th day, Burkett said responders remain in search-and-rescue mode.

“Nobody in charge really talking about stopping this rescue effort,” Burkett said. “And this rescue effort, as far as I’m concerned, will go on until everybody’s pulled out of that debris.”