SURFSIDE, Florida – Demolition workers planned to bring down the remainder of a collapsed condominium building on the Sunday before an approaching storm, which heightened concerns that the damaged structure could collapse on its own, officials said Saturday.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said two more bodies were found in the rubble, bringing the number of confirmed deaths to 24. The number of people missing in the collapse was 124.
Over the past week, fears have increased that the damaged structure could collapse on its own, endangering the crews underneath and making it harder to find victims.
Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members during a morning briefing that the building would be demolished “as soon as possible.” First thing tomorrow. “
But he warned that “there may be some hiccups”. A follow-up meeting will be held in the afternoon to finalize the details of the demolition, which could be a precarious operation as experts enter the building to drill into the building to install explosives.
Concerns that the still-standing portion could collapse have limited search in areas near that section, and shifts detected by monitors early Thursday resulted in a 15-hour suspension of the entire search until engineers discovered the location was back was sure.
Jadallah said the remains of the demolished building would be removed immediately to give rescuers for the first time access to parts of the garage area that is the focus of the search. Such access could give officers a clearer picture of the voids that exist in the rubble that could potentially house survivors.
No one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse on June 24th. The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa from the Caribbean Sea also raises concerns that high winds, possible late Sunday or early Monday in South Florida, could further destabilize the standing portion of the towers.
Demolishing the building would temporarily halt searches, but officials do not hope for long. Some families have asked to return to the building for personal items, but are not allowed to.
During a press conference on Saturday, Governor Ron DeSantis underlined the need to dismantle the structure in a controlled manner before the storm hit.
“We have a building here in Surfside that wobbles, it is structurally incorrect,” said the governor. “If the building is demolished, it will protect our search and rescue teams.”
He also declared the state of emergency ahead of the storm’s expected arrival early next week.
Story by Terry Spencer. Associate press writers Bobby Caina Calvan, Terry Spencer, Mike Schneider and Denise Lavoie contributed to this report.
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