On Sunday, July 4th, at about 10:30 p.m. the standing portion of the 40-year-old building was demolished in order to allow rescue teams to search the area uneventfully. This action was essential in order to explore more of the debris without further delays, due to concerns of further collapse of the remaining unstable structure.
After the demolition, the search and rescue teams were able to be on site within 20 minutes, armed with heavy equipment.
Additional concerns have been raised, as Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said, regarding another building which was built around the same time by the same developer and likely the same materials were used. Due to these concerns, residents of that building have been offered alternative housing options should they choose to leave. "We have deep concerns about that building especially since we don’t know what has happened here," Burkett said.
What happened to Champlain Towers South?
Before the collapse, the missing resident Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton, told her husband on the phone that the pool was swallowed into a massive sinkhole.
As documents released by officials revealed previous concerns about the structural integrity of Champlain Tower South. The findings from an engineering consultant, Frank Morabito, showed that there was "abundant cracking" and crumbling in the underground parking garage of the building, according to a 2018 report. Morabito recommended that concrete slabs, which were "showing distress" by the entrance and the pool deck, "be removed and replaced in their entirety." He said the concrete deterioration should "be repaired in a timely fashion."
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as well as local agencies, are working together to investigate what caused half the building to flatten. They argue that the findings will prompt "policy changes at every level," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Cava Levine said, "to ensure that this can never ever happen again."
At the moment, after 13 days of research, authorities have confirmed that the death toll rose to 36. While 109 people remain "potentially unaccounted for," only 70 of those people are confirmed to have been in Champlain Towers South in Surfside when half of it crumbled in the early morning of June 24, Levine Cava said. The numbers of people accounted for, which now stands at 191, and people unaccounted for have fluctuated as detectives work to audit a list of those reported missing since the collapse.
Levine Cava said reaching some family members who originally called to report someone missing has become a challenge, making "it very difficult to determine whether an individual was in fact in the building." She urged family members to reach back out with more information, if possible.
"We do continue to expect gusts and strong showers today", Levine Cava said. The wind was already affecting large cranes hauling heavy debris. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said that, while the wind is a "challenge, they’re attempting to work around right now," for the most part, crews "are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, nonstop" in an effort to pull every victim out of the pile that was once a 12-story building.
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