Collapsed Florida condo demolished before storm, search resumes


SURFSIDE, Fla., July 4 (Reuters) – The partially collapsed Miami-area condo where 24 people died was demolished Sunday night, ahead of the possible arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa.

Search and rescue efforts for 121 missing people have been suspended. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters earlier Sunday that rescue efforts would resume after the demolition, noting that 11 days have passed since the collapse.

Video footage showed the 12-story building collapsing and throwing plumes of smoke.

Tropical Storm Elsa was off the coast of Cuba on Sunday afternoon with winds of 95 km / h. After passing through Cuba later on Sunday and Monday, the storm was expected to approach western Florida on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the wreckage of the Champlain Towers South complex in Surfside, workers drilled into columns where small explosive charges were placed to knock down the remains of the building in a small area, officials said.

View of the Champlain Towers South residential building that partially collapsed during demolition, in Surfside, Florida, United States, July 4, 2021. REUTERS / Marco Bello

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Residents of neighboring buildings did not need to evacuate but were ordered to stay indoors and turn off the air conditioning due to dust.

Instead of the usual fireworks and flag parties, the area’s seaside communities have planned more moderate events for July 4. Miami Beach has canceled its Independence Day celebrations.

Investigators have not determined what caused the 40-year-old complex to collapse on June 24. A 2018 engineering report revealed structural deficiencies which are now the subject of investigations including grand jury review.

On Friday, all residents of another apartment building, Crestview Towers in North Miami Beach, were told to leave immediately after engineers discovered serious concrete and electrical problems, officials said.

The move was considered urgent due to Elsa’s approach, said Arthur Sorey, city manager of North Miami Beach, adding that the building’s owners had not yet started the mandatory safety recertification process. required 40 years after its construction.

“It’s definitely not an easy decision,” Sorey said. “It’s just the right thing to do during these times. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the storm.”

Reporting by Francisco Alvarado; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Writing by Lisa Shumaker and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Peter Cooney and Michael Perry

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