Surfside Crews Plan Demolition for Sunday

Officials want operation to take place before storm hits but have details to work out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2021 1:00 PM CDT
Crews Want Demolition Before Storm Arrives
Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team walk near the Champlain Towers South condo building on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Demolition workers plan to bring down the remainder of a collapsed condo building on Sunday ahead of an approaching storm that added to worries that the damaged structure could come down on its own, officials said Saturday. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, meanwhile, said two more bodies were found in the rubble, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 24. The number of people who remain unaccounted for was 124, the AP reports. Worries have intensified that the damaged structure could come tumbling down on its own, endangering crews below and complicating the search for victims. Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members during a morning briefing that the building would be brought down "as soon as possible. First thing tomorrow." But he cautioned that there “may be some hiccups.” A follow-up meeting was scheduled for the afternoon to finalize details of the demolition, which could be a precarious operation as experts enter the building to bore into the structure to install explosives.

Concerns that the standing portion could tumble have curtailed the search in areas close to that section, and shifts detected by monitors Thursday prompted a 15-hour suspension of the entire search until engineers determined it was safe to restart. Jadallah said the remnants of the demolished building would be removed immediately after demolition with the intent of giving rescuers access for the first time to parts of the garage area that is a focus of the search. Such access could give officials a clearer picture of the voids that might exist in the rubble and could possibly harbor survivors. No one has been rescued since the first hours after the June 24 collapse. The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa from the Caribbean Sea also raises concerns that strong winds possible in South Florida by late Sunday or early Monday could further destabilize the standing portion of the towers. The demolition of the building would suspend search operations. Some families asked to be able to return to the building to retrieve personal belongings but will not be allowed to do so.

(More Florida condo collapse stories.)

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