Surfside, Fla. Condo collapse death toll rises with discovery of two more bodies

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Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials are still assessing the possible impacts on the existing rubble and determining the best timeframe to begin the demolition.

“The demolition of the building will continue based on the recommendations of the engineers,” she said. “It will take, most likely, weeks.”

She said signing an emergency order now authorizing demolition would help the process move quickly once authorities decide how and when the rest of the building is expected to collapse.

The mayor was asked if the authorities would wait until all the bodies were collected before starting the demolition.

“We are very careful not to compromise our research. But we also know that the building itself has certain risks, so we have to balance these things,” she said.

Levine Cava also told reporters that two other bodies were recovered from the rubble on Friday. The death toll from the collapse is now 22, with 126 people missing, she said.

In a morning press conference, officials said search and rescue teams found the body of the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter and another victim on Thursday evening.

Search teams who combed concrete up to 16 feet deep face new challenges, with the rest of the building unstable and a hurricane heading for Florida.

About 55 of the building’s 136 units collapsed on June 24 when the deadly collapse rocked the neighborhood just north of Miami Beach.

State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said of the remaining condominium units: “To complete the mission, the building will have to go. It’s just too risky.”

The state is working on a “double track” with the site of the collapse and Hurricane Elsa that could hit South Florida in the coming days, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

“Our emergency management department assumes that will happen and makes the necessary preparations so that we can obviously protect a lot of the equipment. You could also have an event with the building,” he said.

Meanwhile, the latest death of a child found in the rubble has been confirmed by the Miami Department of Fire and Rescue.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrific tragedy. We can confirm that a member of the Miami City Fire Department has lost his 7-year-old daughter in the collapse,” firefighters Joseph Zahralban in a press release. declaration.

The girl was “recovered last night by members of our urban search and rescue team, Florida Task Force 2,” the statement said.

The girl’s father has not found her body; other members of the team alerted him, officials said.

Authorities released the names of three people on Friday – Bonnie Epstein, 56; Claudio Bonnefoy, 85, and Maria Obias-Bonnefoy, 69 – whose bodies have been found in the past two days but have not identified the girl at the family’s request.

Concerns about the remaining building

Concerns about the integrity of what is still standing could add another level of difficulty to the painstaking efforts of recovery.

Work was halted for about 15 hours Thursday as engineers assessed the remaining structure.

The county could face heavy rainfall and strong winds from what is now Hurricane Elsa in the Caribbean. Levine Cava said: “It is too early to know for sure that we are in danger” because of Hurricane Elsa, “but we have to prepare nonetheless.”

Hurricane Elsa crosses the Caribbean at a rapid speed of 30 mph.

The amount of time the center of the storm passes over Hispaniola, Jamaica and Cuba will have a huge impact on the strength of the storm as it approaches Florida on Monday. For now, the National Hurricane Center predicts Elsa will weaken into a tropical storm, but they note that the uncertainty with Elsa is higher than most storms.

“Almost the entire state remains in the cone of uncertainty, as Elsa could travel the east coast, the west coast or the Keys and directly up the peninsula,” CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

Documents show deterioration was found around the pool

Repairs to the South Champlain Towers as part of a 40-year recertification process had just started when the collapse occurred.
In 2018, structural engineering firm Morabito Consultants discovered that, among other things, faulty waterproofing was causing “major structural damage” to a concrete slab under the pool deck. The report did not indicate that the structure was in danger of collapsing.
Champlain Towers South condo owners were facing appraisals for $ 15 million in repairs – and payments were due to start this week.

Indeed, contractors last October saw such deterioration in concrete near the pool that they suspended repair work, documents newly obtained by CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” reveal.

Officials are making plans to demolish the structure still standing at the site of the Surfside collapse, the mayor says

They feared that the works would affect the stability of neighboring buildings. And repairs were needed inside the swimming pool, which was supposed to remain open during the works, according to the documents.

Morabito Consultants noted that the full restoration and repair work on the pool corbel and the wall repair work in the pool pump room could not be done, stating in the letter that “areas of deteriorated concrete appeared to penetrate deep into the wall / corbel construction ”and that“ aggressive excavation of concrete at the severely deteriorated pool corbel could affect the stability of the remaining adjacent concrete constructions. ”

Loose concrete around the perimeter of the pool pump room that showed signs of cracking, chipping, deterioration and presented a “fall hazard” was removed by Concrete Protection & Restoration Inc. (CPR), according to the summary of the work.

There is no indication of the deterioration of the concrete that contributed to the collapse, but it does point to major repair work that was needed.

The full scope of the concrete work is unclear, as is the specific work entrusted to Morabito Consultants and CPR and whether this work had been scheduled or was in the process of being completed.

The existence of this letter and the details of the work carried out were first reported by USA Today.

In a statement Friday, CP said it did not repair or restore concrete in 2020 on the Champlain South Towers.

“Our company was contacted by the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association in 2020 to assist Morabito Consultants with their investigations into the building’s 40-year recertification project. Concrete Protection & Restoration, LLC has not undertaken any actual repair work. or concrete restoration on Champlain Towers South in 2020, “he said.

Morabito did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on the letter, but he has defended his work on the tower in previous statements.

Lawsuit alleges lack of security measures

A lawsuit against the Champlain Towers South condo association alleges that Morabito Consultants did not do enough to ensure the safety of occupants and did not examine the building’s underground foundations.
The complaint was lodged by the family of Harold Rosenberg, who is still missing. He alleges that after the 2018 report, the condo association and Morabito Consultants should have submitted a written report to Surfside certifying that the condo was structurally safe.

The report was produced by engineer Frank Morabito as part of Champlain Towers South’s 40-year recertification effort.

The 2018 report “offered detailed findings and recommendations regarding significant and necessary structural repairs to the condominium,” a spokesperson for Morabito Consultants told CNN.

Other buildings to evaluate

The teams that searched the debris still haven’t found a single trigger for the collapse. And while investigators examine the causes of the devastation, city officials are working to avoid damage elsewhere.

Surfside has requested that buildings that are at least three stories or 30 years old begin having their structures reviewed before the 40-year building recertification program, a letter to owners said Thursday.

Building managers will need to hire a licensed structural engineer and should hire a licensed geotechnical engineer “to perform an analysis of foundations and underground soils.”

CNN’s Deanna Hackney, Alta Spells, Theresa Waldrop, Steve Almasy, Hollie Silverman, Camille Furst, Rosa Flores, Curt Devine and Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.


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