Video from a nearby security camera shows what happened Thursday night last week: a large part of the complex, on the north side, is descending. Eight seconds later, another part collapses. Eleven seconds later, there is nothing but emptiness in a place where hundreds of people went to bed a few hours ago.
On Saturday it emerged that an engineer had already warned three years ago of “significant structural damage” to the building. Newspaper New York times Watch a report describing the extensive damage to the concrete foundation under the pond. There was also an abundance of cracking and collapsing in the columns, beams and walls in the car park below the complex – damage likely from years of exposure to salty sea air.
At the time, architect Frank Morabita urged the building’s management to make quick repairs. A multi-million dollar refund has been developed and will be launched soon – after more than 2.5 years of warning from management.
Investigators to determine the cause of the disaster do not have full access to the site. Experts say it will take months to explore all possible scenarios: looking at individual building components now buried under the rubble, testing the concrete, and examining the ground to determine if there was a ditch or other subsidence that might be related to the collapse.
Big pieces of rubble
Meanwhile, rescue teams work on unstable hills of concrete and steel strewn with fire, hoping to find survivors. It is a delicate work to be done in the heat and in heavy rain. Heavy machinery carefully lifts large chunks of rubble to provide rescuers with new entrances into the rubble. Human remains have been found, but DNA tests are necessary to identify victims.
In the American media, the complex is called “the microcosm” of multicultural Miami. Among the missing are residents of several Latin American countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela and Paraguay (including the sister of that country’s first lady), as well as several Israelis. According to the residents, every December there was a Christmas tree and a menorah (seven-armed candelabra) in the hallway. “This was a model of the open-minded society in these towers,” said Rabbi Elliot Berelson of one of the five synagogues within walking distance of the building. Washington Post. Israel sent a search team from its armed forces to Florida this weekend to assist American rescuers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people are waiting for news of their missing loved ones at a center set up for them. So far, four dead have been identified, but most people have no idea if their parents, mothers, children, brothers, sisters or friends living in the 55 destroyed apartments are still alive.
The neighbors are also terrified. At an emergency city council meeting, officials said they were summoned by residents to question whether their buildings were safe, and called for further investigation of all apartment complexes in the area that are more than six stories tall and 40 years old — such as properties that have gone down.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said there was no immediate evidence that other buildings were in danger, but that people were being considered for evacuation from surrounding compounds – although many residents chose to leave on their own.
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