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Demolition of the standing portion of Florida’s partially collapsed condo tower will take place “as soon as possible,” with workers then resuming their search for the 121 people still missing, officials said Sunday.
Tropical Storm Elsa is on a path to land farther west than the collapse site in Surfside, but the wicked weather she’s bringing with her could still batter the area with dangerous wind gusts and torrential rain when she makes landfall, which is expected to be late Monday, authorities said at a press briefing.
“As soon as the preparation is ready, the site is secure and the team is ready to go, we will begin the demolition,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Cava didn’t give an exact timeline for demolition, but officials have said it could come as soon as Sunday night.
“As both the governor and I have made clear, our top priority is that the building comes down as soon as possible, no matter what time that occurs and as safely as possible,” Cava said at Sunday’s briefing.
“Bringing down this building in a controlled manner is critical to expanding our scope of the search and rescue effort and allowing us to explore the area closest to the building, which has currently not been accessible to our first responders.”
The resumed search for possible survivors in the June 24 collapse of part of the tower “should happen very shortly after the demolition,” the mayor added.
Cava said the demolition team will use “energetic felling,” a process that sets charges strategically and relies on gravity to create an implosion that will bring the structure down on its own footprint.
The same process was used to bring down the old Kosciuszko Bridge in 2017.
Cava said the death toll at the site of the building collapse in Surfside remains at 24.
“All 24 next of kin have now been notified,” she said.
Hundreds of workers have been sifting through the rubble of Champlain Towers South since the building collapsed.
On Saturday, officials halted the work to begin demolition of the remaining building, for fear that Tropical Storm Elsa, which is expected to brush the site, could topple the unstable structure.
Concerns over the safety of that portion of the unsteady remaining building had halted work on the rubble for 15 hours Thursday, with workers later being allowed to dig only in some portions of the pile.
The building, constructed in 1981, had been cited for structural concerns in a damning 2018 engineer’s report.
The Champlain condo association did not approve the $15 million renovation project until earlier this year, and work had only just begun on the roof when the building collapsed.
The work was required for the building to pass a required 40-year recertification.
In a new media report, the Champlain building manager chided Surfside town officials for allegedly “holding up the work” just three days before the tragic collapse.
“This is holding us up and cost [sic] are going up and out [sic] 40 year is coming up fast,” manager Scott Stewart wrote to town officials, according to the Miami Herald.
Hundreds of workers have flocked to the site of the collapse, coming from as far off as Mexico and Israel, to help with rescue efforts.
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