Latest On The Surfside Building Collapse
A lot has happened since we first reported on the Surfside condo incident. Let’s take a look at the latest updates and details about this situation.
Starting on Sunday, July 4, the portion of Champlain Towers south that remained standing was demolished. This demolition actually came much earlier than expected, as it wasn’t planned to happen for what would have likely been a few weeks later. The reason for the change in the timeframe was the rapidly-approaching storm known as Elsa. Elsa had been constantly changing strength, going back and forth between getting labeled as a hurricane and a tropical storm. With it forecast to run right into Florida, officials in the state knew that they had a huge decision to make.
Beyond that, officials were trying to come up with the right demolition strategy. Up until a couple days before the demolition, they’re plan would have taken those extra weeks to set up and execute. However, that all changed when a demolition expert came forward to lend a hand. They drew up a plan which was reviewed by personnel up to the federal level. This plan was approved and the demolition was set to happen within the next 36 hours after.
It was then, on Sunday, that the demolition happened. They used a strategy that included well-placed small explosives and a reliance on gravity to bring the building to the ground right where it stood. The plan was created in a way that severely limited the amount of debris that would fall on the part of the building where victims were still buried or where residents lived. Despite that, nearby residents were advised to stay inside if possible, as there would still be dust and particles that would escape the demolition site. This entire demolition happened to ensure the safety of the first responders who were continuing to search and clear the rubble. After the demolition was completed, the search was back underway.
As the search has gone on, there have been more victims found. Perhaps even more unfortunate is the fact that as the search has gone on, more and more children have been found dead in the rubble. Some of the latest include children of ages 9, 6, 5 and 1 years old. As of Tuesday, there have been a total of 95 victims found, with 85 of them being identified. The next of kin of these 85 identified victims have been contacted, and work is being done as fast as possible to identify the others. Along with that, 14 people remain potentially unaccounted for. Miami-Dade County Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava stated that at this point it is becoming harder to find victims, but that doesn’t mean they are going to stop looking.
As of Tuesday, approximately 18 million pounds of debris has been removed from the site. As workers clear away the rubble, they are finding countless personal belongings from the people inside, and doing their best to return those items to the families. Some of these things include jewelry, photos and even a birthday card. They will continue to do all they can to recover these items as the search continues.
As far as the timeline for the search is concerned, it is unclear as to when it will actually be completed. The best guess that could be given is somewhere within the next 21 days, although it has also been estimated that the search could be completed within 14 days if things continue at their current pace. There are some things that can have an effect on this effort, however. For example, there have been several pauses in the search due to things like lightning and fires breaking out on site. One of these fires occurred due to a damaged car inside of the collapsed garage, which they are trying to clear out now since there are more damaged vehicles that could cause more of the same fires.
At this point in time, there have been several lawsuits filed by both survivors of the condo’s collapse and by the families of the recovered victims. These lawsuits are being aimed at the association that owned the building for their lack of effort to take care of the building. As we have previously discussed, it was known that there were many structural problems throughout that building, so people are taking any action they can. There is even a group of lawyers who are essentially deciding to work for free on this case. The plan for the hearings at this time is to have those who lost possessions be part of one group and one session, while those who lost family members will go into a second group and a separate session. The judge who oversaw the first hearing stated several times that it would be impossible to win enough money to provide total comfort to the families who were grieving. However, they were going to do all they could to ease the pain in any way they could. Searches and investigations will continue throughout these hearings, including the use of rubble as evidence, as well as the study of the Champlain Towers north building to get more clues about why its sister building collapsed.