Search back on after rest of South Florida condo demolished

SURFSIDE, Florida (AP) – Three victims were found dead in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building as crews resumed their search for the demolition of the remaining part of the building.

SURFSIDE, Florida (AP) – Three victims were found dead in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building as crews resumed their search for the demolition of the remaining part of the building.

The victims were recovered Monday morning, Miami-Dade deputy fire chief Raide Jadallah told family members, bringing the death toll to 27 people. More than 115 people remain missing.

THIS IS A LATEST UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) – Rescuers received the all-clear to resume work looking for victims inside a collapsed condo building in South Florida after demolition teams detonated an explosive chain that caused the last part of the building to collapse in a cloud of dust.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told the Associated Press that the demolition “went exactly as planned” at around 10:30 pm on Sunday.

The crews immediately began cleaning up some of the new debris so that the rescuers could advance into particularly interesting parts of the underground car park. Once there, they hoped to get a clearer picture of voids that might be in the rubble when they searched for 121 people believed to be trapped under the collapsed wing of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, the on the 24th

No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse. On Sunday, Miami-Dade police identified 58-year-old David Epstein as one of 24 people known to have died in the collapsed tower. His remains were recovered on Friday.

During the demolition, a loud rat of explosions echoed from the building. Then the building plunged into a dust explosion one floor after the other. Feathers billowed in the air as the crowd watched the scene from a distance.

“It was a perfect picture. Exactly what we were told would happen, ”Levine Cava said in an interview shortly after the demolition.

It didn’t take long before cranes were back in action on the construction site. Levine Cava said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” that the crews searched the rubble again before midnight.

Some residents had asked to return to their homes one last time before the demolition to retrieve belongings left behind in a hurry, but were refused. Others wondered about the abandoned pets, although officials said they found no signs of animals after three final searches, including using drones to peer into the abandoned structure.

Levine Cava said officials had been explaining their decisions with the survivors since the search and rescue operations began.

“We understand that families realize that the time has passed, they realize that the chances are getting smaller and smaller,” she said on “Today”. “They are with us, they know what we have done with every step.”

The mayor also said the teams are working to salvage any personal items they can. “We asked them to catalog all of their valuable belongings so that once they are recovered we can find a match.”

Approaching Tropical Storm Elsa had made the demolition plans more urgent with projections suggesting the system could bring high winds. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency because of the storm in Florida, thereby enabling federal aid.

The latest predictions have shifted the storm westward, largely sparing South Florida, but National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Molleda said the area could still feel an impact.

“We primarily expect gusts with tropical storm strength,” said Molleda, referring to gusts over 64 km / h.

The decision to demolish the remains of the Surfside building was made after concerns grew that the damaged structure was about to crash, endangering the crews underneath and preventing them from operating in some areas. Parts of the remaining building were moved on Thursday, causing work to be suspended for 15 hours.

Authorities had gone door to door to inform residents of the time of the demolition and to ask them to keep the windows closed. They were instructed to stay indoors until two hours after the explosion to avoid the dust raised by the implosion.

The method of demolition on Sunday evening is known as “energetic felling,” which uses small explosive devices and uses gravity. The aim was to get the building in place and to contain the collapse in the immediate vicinity.

Officials used tarpaulins to visually mark the search area in case new debris was unexpectedly scattered.

State officials said they hired BG Group, a general contractor based in Delray Beach, Florida, to oversee the demolition. They didn’t immediately respond to a query about how the company was selected, but a contract for the project calls for the state to pay the company $ 935,000.

A spokesman for the state’s emergency management department said the company had sold Maryland-based Controlled Demolition Inc. The company was contracted to place explosives in the basement and lobby levels of the standing building for the work.

CDI is “probably one of the best” in the business, said Steve Schwartz, a member of the board of directors of the National Demolition Association. He described the company’s president and owner, Mark Loizeaux, as “cool, calm and collected”.

Implosions – where explosives are used to topple a building on itself – generally trigger charges in a matter of seconds, said Scott Homrich, who heads the National Demolition Association and runs his own demolition company in Detroit, Michigan . The setting down of the explosives at intervals serves to break open the building at the same time as it collapses.


Calvan reported from Tallahassee. Associated Press Writer Terry Spencer of Surfside, Florida; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; Sudhin Thanawala in Atlanta, Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, and Ian Mader in Miami contributed to this report.

Rebecca Santana and Bobby Caina Calvan, The Associated Press

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