Miami building collapse: Search efforts suspended ahead of demolition before Tropical Storm Elsa

·2-min read
Miami building collapse: Search efforts suspended ahead of demolition before Tropical Storm Elsa
Search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at Champlain Towers (AP)
Search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at Champlain Towers (AP)

The search for possible survivors in the partially collapsed Miami apartment block has been suspended ahead of the controlled demolition of the rest of the building.

The Champlain Towers in Surfside, Miami collapsed last week. Twenty-four people are known to have died and 121 are missing.

The demolition of the Florida complex has been brought forward over safety concerns due to an approaching storm, Tropical Storm Elsa, which is expected to reach the west coast of Florida on Tuesday.

Teams are preparing to bring down the remaining structure using explosives.

Mayor Cava Levine announced a temporary pause in the search operation and said the latest developments "do not signify that we are no longer focused on search and rescue".

She said preparations for the demolition included "drilling into columns in the unsafe structure" and a pause was needed while the process was underway.

Strong winds are expected in the coming days which could bring down additional debris from the unstable structure, said Surfside mayor Charles Burkett, adding that it could endanger the lives of the search teams.

"It was obvious that the building was a problem," he said on Saturday.

"We agreed that the only solution for that problem was to eliminate it."

Mr Burkett said the controlled demolition could take place "as early as [Sunday]", and should be completed within days.

It comes as condo board members at Champlain Towers South debated the extensive and costly repairs the building was expecting to undergo before it collapsed on June 24.

According to the Guardian, documents and presentations from meetings of the residents’ association board revealed infighting after an engineer discovered in 2018 that the building had “major structural damage” and proposed significant but costly repairs.

The paper reports members raised concerns that the board was acting too slowly.

In late 2019, five members of the seven-person board resigned in two weeks.

According to the New York Times, Marcelo Pena, a former board member, wrote: “The building is falling apart.

“Somebody can seriously be injured or killed with the state of the concrete.”

The cause of the collapse remains unknown and elected officials have vowed to conduct several investigations.

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