At least eleven people are dead after a building collapse in Surfside, FL. Rescue operations continue.
A condominium partially collapsed in South Florida on June 24, at 1:20 AM. At least half of the 135 units in the 13-story building have collapsed, according to the Miami-Dade mayor Danielle Levine Cava. The Champlain Towers South building was originally shaped like an “L,” but the lower half of that shape was completely sheared off, including the building’s pool and garage.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is leading the rescue efforts along with multiple other agencies. The White House and FEMA are also monitoring the situation and will provide assistance to the local officials if needed.
A woman who resides on the ninth floor recalled her experience to Local 10, “The whole building shook like an earthquake. I opened my sliding glass and I saw a plume of dust and then I opened the door and I saw that the building had pancaked in the back.”
Another resident commented that he and his wife fled to the garage, only to find that the pipes had burst and it was flooded.
Rescue teams are recovering victims from the rubble, while all tenants in unaffected apartments are being evacuated. Firefighters continue to sift through the wreckage for victims, which includes using dogs and microphones.
“Debris is falling on them as they do their work. We have structural engineers on site to ensure that they will not be injured, but they are proceeding because they are so motivated and they are taking extraordinary risk on the site every day,” says Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, describing the “extreme risk” of the firefighters dangerous duty.
Over 400 workers are involved in the rescue effort, with up to 200 rescuers searching through debris at all times, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky.
Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett cannot think of a reason for this collapse to have happened, other than an unexpected sinkhole or human interference. While he confirmed that roof work was being done on this building, this is a regular occurrence that he doesn’t believe could have caused the collapse. However, former Surfside Vice Mayor Barry Cohen, a resident of the collapsed building, believes that the roof work actually may have compromised the integrity of the building.
Unfortunately, a thunderstorm has paused all rescue efforts for the time being, according to Commissioner Sally Heyman.
On Saturday, June 26, at least 159 people remained missing. On Monday, two more victims were found. As of Tuesday, June 29, the number of missing persons has decreased to 150.
The Champlain Towers South condominium community have continued to mourn the victims of the tragedy in the days following the harrowing accident.
A third lawsuit has now been filed against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association on behalf of ninth floor resident, Raysa Rodriguez. Rodriguez is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial. The compliant alleges: ““Despite the obvious duties required by Florida law, and this admitted duty of care by the Association’s Declaration and other governing documents, Defendant, through their own reckless and negligent conduct, caused a catastrophic deadly collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside.”
Rodriguez additionally alleged that in 2018, “major structural damages” were outlined in a structural field survey report submitted to the defendant by Morabito Consultants. The compliant is seeking a class action status lawsuit to represent all of the condominium’s victims of the tragic accident.
Rodriguez’ attorney, Adam Schwartzbaum, argued that the building has been aware of these “critical” structural issues for some time, and that warning signs of collapse have been apparent for the last decade. Schwartzbaum says, “Certainly for at least three years, there was a major red flag…sirens flashing, alerting the condo association of this of this danger.” He elaborated in another comment that, “based on our investigation there were many warnings signs more than 10 years ago, maybe even longer. These are not things that were just a few years ago.”
A letter sent from the building’s condo association president reveals that damage to the basement garage of the building had become “significantly worse” since its prior inspection, three years ago. The letter also reveals that the estimated repair costs had risen from $9 million to $15 million, reveals USA Today.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said that President Joe Biden thinks an investigation into the Champlain Towers South collapse should be set in motion.
The harrowing search-and-rescue operation is still currently underway, stretching into day six of the rescue effort.
A family reunification center has been set up for anyone looking for unaccounted or missing relatives at a community center at 9301 Collins Ave. Those searching for their loved ones or to report that they have been located are asked to call 305-614-1819. An emergency information hotline has also been created at 305-993-1071.