Demolition crews detonated explosives Sunday night to knock down the remaining damaged portion of a collapsed condo building in South Florida, a key step in resuming the search for victims as rescuers possibly gain access to new areas of debris. . No one has been found alive since the first hours after the disaster. So far, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, and 121 are still missing.
Several explosions were heard Sunday night and then the building began to fall, sending huge plumes of dust into the air in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Crews were to begin clearing out some of the new debris so rescuers could begin making their way into parts of the underground garage. Once there, rescuers hope to gain access for the first time to parts of the garage area that are a focus of interest, said Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah. That could give a clearer picture of the voids that may exist in the rubble that could possibly harbor survivors.
The precarious and still standing portion of a collapsed condo building in South Florida was rigged with explosive charges and demolished overnight, Miami-Dade County officials said Sunday night. The work has suspended the search and rescue mission, but authorities said it will open up new areas for rescue teams to explore.
Rescuers will wait for “all clear” after the demolition and then immediately dive into the task of trying to locate survivors buried under the rubble, said county mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Authorities had previously said that the search could resume 15 minutes to an hour after the detonation.
“We’re waiting. We are ready to go, no matter what time of night, ”Levine Cava said at a news conference Sunday night.
Search efforts have been suspended since Saturday afternoon to allow workers to drill holes for explosives. Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Raide Jadallah previously said that up to 210 rescuers will be ready to restart the search as soon as the site is declared safe after the blast.
Levine Cava said Sunday that demolishing the building was a top priority. “Taking down this building in a controlled manner is critical to expanding the scope of our search and rescue effort,” he told a news conference.
Authorities had evacuated residents from the site prior to the demolition and warned others to stay inside and close windows, doors and any other openings that could allow dust to enter.
“There is no one in charge who is really talking about stopping this rescue effort,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CBS ‘Face the Nation. “This rescue effort, as far as I’m concerned, will continue until everyone is pulled out of that rubble.”
Concerns had grown that the damaged building at Champlain Towers South in Surfside was at risk of collapsing on its own, endangering crews below and preventing them from operating in some areas. The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa added urgency to the demolition project. The latest forecasts have moved the storm west, mostly without affecting South Florida, but forecasters have said the area could still feel effects starting Monday.