FL Condo Collapses Killing At Least 9
Crews are continuing to sift through debris after the collapse of a residential building last week, in the Surfside neighborhood of Florida, about six miles north of Miami beach. As of Sunday afternoon, nine people are confirmed dead, with more than 150 still missing.
The incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. last Thursday (June 24), when part of Champlain Towers South collapsed. The Towers are made of three buildings, each 12 stories tall and containing 342 units. According to reports, about a third of the building “pancaked” in the collapse.
On Thursday, more than 80 rescue units were reportedly on the scene. By Sunday, 35 victims were pulled from the structure with two more pulled from the rubble. 11 of them were treated for their injuries.
A 2018 engineering report said that the condominium building that collapsed this week near Miami had “major structural damage” to a concrete structural slab below its pool deck that needed extensive repairs. It's unclear if that damage caused the collapse. https://t.co/GTHbvz6dPw— The Associated Press (@AP) June 26, 2021
A state of emergency was also declared on Thursday, which allowed the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate relief efforts at the scene, which also involved containing a fire within the debris.
On Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett turned their attention to the “sister building” to the tower that fell, noting that it was built with the same team. Residents in Champlain Towers North began being aided by FEMA to find temporary housing.
By noon Saturday, the fire was finally out, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Four of the victims were also identified on Saturday, they include: Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54.
On Sunday, heavy equipment was sent to the scene to help manage the shifting debris after rescuers dug a 125-foot-long trench (20 feet wide and 40 feet deep) to add to the round-the-clock excavation effort. Officials on Sunday showed no signs of shifting the mission from rescue to recovery.
“Obviously, we have a very large area of debris and the debris pile that we have to slowly and methodically work our way through,” said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Firefighter Margarita Castro, who is also a member of Florida Task Force 1, of FEMA.
“We have to be careful in the way we do that procedure because if there’s any possibility of there being void spaces, or pockets where anybody could be alive, we can’t disturb the pile to the point where we’d collapse the pile.”
About the Building
The complex was built in 1981 by late developer Nathan Reiber and Nattel Construction, which is listed as inactive in state records. Since the collapse, media outlets and the city of Surfside have uncovered documents surrounding the structure’s condition. According to a 2018 engineering report from Morabito Consultants, the condominium had “major structural damage” to its concrete structural slab below the pool deck that needed “extensive repairs.” At the moment, some experts are surmising that the pool deck is the origin of the collapse.
While nothing is certain, the Miami Herald interviewed six engineering experts who weighed in on the structure based on publicly available evidence such as building plans, inspection reports, photos and video.
The popular, early diagnosis is that a structural column or slab beneath the pool deck gave way first, causing the deck to collapse into the garage below, forming a crater in the midsection of the tower, which then caved in on itself causing the pancaking.
Other theories look at corrosion in the rebar of the concrete slabs, as 1979 structural plans of the towers show a “flat slab” style plan.
Typically, cracks that indicate corrosion would be visible, but going back to the 2018 inspection report, the engineer, Frank Morabito, noted that he had limited access to assess the extent of the damage and that the slab was partially obscured by tile. It is unclear whether those repairs were ever made.
However, the first lawsuit filed over the collapse from unit owner Manuel Drezner alleges that the Champlain Towers South condo association could have prevented the collapse, citing that repair needs had been identified but not completed.
Consultants also acknowledged that the building was in the early stages of a three-year renovation plan, which had started with roof work about six weeks prior. Some suggested that larger-than-normal loads on the roof because of the construction could have exacerbated any structural issues, though building official James McGuinness maintains that there were weren’t any “extraordinary mass materials” on the roof at that time.
The extensive investigation will likely be undertaken by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to officials.