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Miami-Dade Mayor Signs Order to Demolish Rest of Partially Collapsed Florida Condo Building

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
  • Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Friday authorized the demolition of a 12-story condominium building that partially collapsed more than a week ago.
  • But it will likely take weeks before the building in Surfside, Florida, is demolished as engineers evaluate all possible impacts, Levine Cava said.
  • At least 22 people are confirmed dead and 126 are unaccounted for.
  • Authorities provided additional updates on Hurricane Elsa, noting that southern Florida could see tropical storm-force winds as early as Sunday night.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava signed an emergency order Friday authorizing the demolition of a 12-story condominium building in Surfside, Florida, that partially collapsed more than a week ago.

However, it will likely take weeks before the building, Champlain Towers South, is demolished as engineers evaluate all possible impacts of bringing the rest of the structure down, Levine Cava said.

"The building poses a threat to public health and safety, and bringing it down as quickly as possible is critical to protect our community," Levine Cava said during a Friday evening press conference.

The mayor said search-and-rescue operations remain the first priority of authorities even as they plan for the demolition. The death toll rose to at least 22 Friday evening, while 126 people are still unaccounted for.

Levine Cava and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez noted earlier Friday that one of the bodies recovered is of a seven-year-old child whose father works for the Miami fire department. 

"It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders," Levine Cava told reporters.

People look at a memorial that has pictures of some of the missing from the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
People look at a memorial that has pictures of some of the missing from the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

"These men and women are paying an enormous human toll each and every day, and I ask that all of you, please keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers. They truly represent the very best in all of us, and we need to be there for them as they are here for us."

Levine Cava also announced that a building in North Miami was found to be unsafe after it was reviewed by authorities, noting that it has not been recertified. Authorities have ordered an evacuation of the building, according to the Associated Press.

President Joe Biden, following his visit to Surfside yesterday, formally authorized the federal government on Friday to cover 100% of the cost of debris removal and emergency protective measures at the collapse site under the Public Assistance program for 30 days, beginning June 24.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie thanked the federal government and private-sector vendors for their support.

The Royal Caribbean Group is providing free housing and resources to search-and-rescue teams at one of its ships docked at the Port of Miami. Amazon has also aided search-and-rescue teams by donating 500 laundry bags, 2,000 laundry pods and 2,000 dryer sheets, Guthrie added.

"The support that we have seen for our first responders has been absolutely incredible," he said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis provided additional updates on Hurricane Elsa, noting that southern Florida could see tropical storm-force winds as early as Sunday night. Authorities are paying "special attention" to any potential impacts on Miami-Dade County.

DeSantis said search-and-rescue teams from Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey will assist the state's emergency response teams and preparations for Hurricane Elsa. 

Charles Cyrille, division director at the Miami-Dade County Office of Emergency Management, urged citizens to begin preparing evacuation plans, including three to seven days of supplies for each member of a household. Cyrille added that homes should also be prepared for impact by securing objects, such as garbage cans and patio furniture, that can be easily blown away by a hurricane. 

"It is critically important that these preparatory activities begin today," Cyrille said. 

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett provided updates earlier Friday on Champlain Towers North, the sister property of the collapsed condo building. Burkett said arrangements have been made to relocate residents while experts prepare to conduct a forensic study into the structure to evaluate its safety.

Search-and-rescue operations resumed Thursday night after a daylong halt, with authorities hoping to expand the search area safely. The halt was due to structural concerns identified by subject matter experts, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky. 

Investigations are still being conducted on the cause of the collapse. 

Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors and to recover remains in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors and to recover remains in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Recent evidence indicates that the 40-year-old condominium building had shown signs of major structural damage as far back as 2018, with a report citing issues with waterproofing beneath the pool and cracking in the underground parking garage. 

A video taken on the night of the collapse has also come to light, showing water pouring into the parking garage of the building. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced Wednesday evening that it had launched a federal investigation into the cause of the collapse and to develop improved building codes. 

Former NIST Director Dr. Walter Copan, who led the agency under then-President Donald Trump until January 2021, told the Miami Herald that it could be a matter of months before NIST provides new facts from the probe. 

"Generally, there will be an initial summary within three to six months to provide a status update to the public," said Copan, according to the Herald. 

"NIST's job, first and foremost, is to brief the public regularly within NIST's lane of technical analysis and root cause of the failure," he said.

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