Rest of collapsed Florida condo tower demolished, crews to resume search efforts


July 6, 2021: -The rest of the partially collapsed condo tower in Surfside, Florida, was demolished around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Earlier, local authorities told residents in the surrounding area to shelter in place and close all windows, doors, and air intakes. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the shelter-in-place order lifts two hours after the demolition is complete.

“The demolition is confined to the immediate area around the building,” the mayor said. “However, there is dust and other particles that are an unavoidable byproduct of all types of demolition, and as a precautionary measure, we’re urging residents in the immediate vicinity to stay indoors during the demolition,” he added.

Search-and-rescue efforts at the building were temporarily halted on Saturday afternoon for demolition preparation, which included drilling into the remaining structure’s columns. Levine Cava said Sunday the search would resume after the building is down and the site is deemed secure.

“Bringing the building down in a controlled manner is critical to expanding our scope of search as you know in a pile, and allowing us to search in the area closest to the building which has not been accessible to the teams given the grave risk to our first responders due to the instability of the building,” Levine Cava said.

No one has been rescued since the first few hours after the collapse of Champlain Towers South 11 days ago. The death toll rose to 24 people as of Saturday, with 121 still missing. A news briefing early Saturday said the state would pay for all costs of the demolition.

According to Levine Cava, the demolition involved a technique called energetic feeling, which relies on the force of gravity to take down the building with small detonations and confines the collapse to the area of the building.

Officials initially thought a demolition could take weeks. But plans to demolish the remaining structure were quickened amid concerns that weather impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa could hit Florida early next week and further threaten the unstable system with heavy rainfall and winds.

The cause of the collapse of Champlain Towers South, which was built in the 1980s, is still unknown. However, an engineering consultant filed a report from 2018 warning of cracking and significant structural damage below the building’s pool deck.

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