The Miami-Dade County Mayoress said Friday she had ordered the demolition of the remaining portion of Champlain Towers South, a decision made a day after fears that the damaged structure could collapse and disrupt rescue efforts.
“The building poses a public health and safety hazard and it is important to demolish it as soon as possible to protect our community,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who warned the demolition may not begin would have signed off weeks from now before the engineers.
More than a week since much of the condo tower collapsed, searches have been slow, with some areas of the rubble considered too dangerous for rescue workers. Ms. Levine Cava said Friday that four more bodies were found, bringing the total to 22. Up to 126 people remain missing.
The search, which paused for about 14 hours Thursday amid fears the rest of the condominium building could collapse, was hampered by inclement weather and dangerous conditions, with each day further reducing the chances of finding survivors. Despite rescue teams saying they hoped they could find someone alive – a point that Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky and Ms. Levine Cava reiterated on Friday – officials have become more and more blunt about the prospect.
“They pray, they ask, ‘God, let there be a miracle,’” President Biden said Thursday after meeting the families of the dead and missing.
The number of people unaccounted for fell slightly on Friday after officials examined their reports and found that some people classified as missing were indeed safe.
As the weekend drew near, the authorities put in place contingency plans for Hurricane Elsa, which had been aggravated by a tropical storm. The hurricane, which was already threatening Caribbean islands, was expected to hit Florida by the end of the weekend, with strong winds reaching the state as early as Sunday evening.
Governor Ron DeSantis said officials planned to continue the search in Surfside while protecting any equipment that could be threatened by the storm and monitoring the stability of the partially collapsed building.
“We’re adding that particular focus to this site because we understand the sensitivities involved,” said Mr. DeSantis.
Chief Cominsky said the crews would monitor the weather to see if and when they might need to stop the search operations.
“We want to stay outside as long as possible,” he says.
Even if the search continues and the investigation is still in its infancy, court hearings are already taking place over the collapse. At a virtual hearing on Friday, an attorney for the building’s condominium association committee said the surviving board members – one is still missing – voted unanimously to appoint an independent party to handle the lawsuits local residents filed against the board to have.
Michael Goldberg, an attorney, will take on what is known as the independent bankruptcy administrator and will be closely involved in how the association uses $ 48 million in insurance funds and all proceeds from the sale of assets, including cash distributions to Survivors and families of the deceased.
The nearby city of North Miami Beach conducted a building inspection recommended by Ms. Levine Cava’s office after the collapse, the mayor said, and found a building that had not completed the required recertification process for buildings 40 and over.
A notice posted on the North Miami Beach website said that a special session of the city council was called for Saturday to discuss the evacuation of the Crestview Towers, about seven miles from the Surfside collapse site.