Teams Drill Holes for Explosives in Remaining Structure

Officials worry storm will take bring building down at the wrong place
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2021 12:00 PM CDT
Teams Drill Holes for Explosives in Remaining Structure
An American flag flies Sunday from a crane next to the Champlain Towers South condo building in Florida.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Crews were setting up the part of the Florida condo building that's still standing for demolition on Sunday, while others were preparing the site for a tropical storm. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommended the structure be brought down, WPLG reports. Teams were boring holes in the Surfside building for explosive charges, and a fire official said they were 80% finished with that task. The timing of the demolition still isn't settled, but the fire official drew applause from families of the victims when he said it will happen soon, possibly Sunday night, per the AP. The search for victims was paused Saturday afternoon, in case the crews' drilling brought a collapse. The demolition will clear areas around Champlain Towers South that haven't been combed over yet. "Once this building is down, it's going to be a green light, full speed ahead, maximum effort to pull these victims out and reunite them with their family," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said on CBS' Face the Nation.

The approaching tropical storm, which had earlier been a hurricane, adds urgency to the work, per CNN. Forecasts expect the center of Elsa to miss Surfside, but rain and wind gusts could begin in the area Monday morning. Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Miami-Dade and 14 other counties in anticipation of the storm. "We're still very hopeful that we can do the demolition before the storm," Levine Cava said. If not, Burkett said, officials are worried that "the hurricane may take the building down for us and take it down in the wrong direction, on top of the pile where we have victims." They're also concerned for the safety of the crews. Once the structure is demolished, officials said, the suspended search-and-rescue efforts will resume in less than an hour. The death toll in the collapse stood Sunday at 24; 121 people remained missing. (More Florida condo collapse stories.)

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