© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A satellite view shows the collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside near Miami Beach, Florida, USA, July 3, 2021. @Maxar Technologies / Handout via REUTERS
By Francisco Alvarado
SURFSIDE, Fla. (Reuters) – Preparations for demolition work were underway Sunday before the possible arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa at the partially collapsed condo in the Miami area, where 24 were confirmed dead.
Search and rescue efforts for the more than 120 missing persons were suspended.
“We don’t have a specific time,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters Saturday. “We are still hopeful that we can do the demolition before the storm.”
On Sunday morning, Tropical Storm Elsa was off the coast of Jamaica with winds of 60 miles per hour (100 km per hour). On Monday the storm was forecast to pass through Cuba and make landfall in western Florida later on Monday or Tuesday.
In the remains of the Champlain Towers South complex in Surfside, workers were drilling columns where explosive charges will be placed to bring down the remains of the building, authorities said. Residents in nearby buildings do not need to evacuate, the mayor said.
Instead of the usual fireworks and flag-waving parties, beachside communities in the area have planned more moderate events for the 4th of July. Miami Beach canceled its Independence Day celebrations.
Investigators have not determined what caused the 40-year-old complex to collapse on June 24. A 2018 engineering report found structural deficiencies that are now the focus of investigations including a grand jury examination.
Meanwhile, all residents of another building, Crestview Towers in North Miami Beach, were told on Friday to leave immediately after engineers found serious electrical and concrete problems, authorities said.
The move was deemed urgent due to Elsa’s approach, North Miami Beach City Manager Arthur Sorey said, adding that the building’s owners had not yet begun a mandatory safety recertification process required 40 years after its construction. .
“It’s definitely not an easy decision,” Sorey said. “It is the right thing to do these days. It is not known what will happen to the storm.”
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