I can’t imagine how heartbreaking this tragedy has been for the families, friends and neighbors of those who live/lived at Champlain Towers South. I am praying, as I am sure you are, for those who lost their lives, their families, and the brave rescue crews.
The number of missing persons has increased dramatically from the original estimate of 99. Only four bodies have been recovered thus far. Of the 136 apartments, about 70 were destroyed or damaged, according to Frank Rollason, director of Miami-Dade Emergency Management.
The grim task of recovering the bodies of victims at the site of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside began overnight and continued into a somber Friday in an unfolding tragedy that is feared to be the worst building failure in Florida history.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Friday morning that the number of people who are unaccounted for in Thursday’s building collapse increased to 159 — dramatically higher than the 99 reported earlier. The official death toll rose to four, as three more people were found in the rubble.
On Friday afternoon, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office identified the first of the deceased victims as Stacie Fang, 54, who died at Aventura Hospital. The cause was blunt-force injuries.
She said 120 people are now accounted for but stressed that all the numbers are “fluid” because some residents may not have been in the building when it collapsed.
“Unfortunately, this has been a tragic night,” Levine Cava said, while stressing that rescuers will “continue searching because we still have hope that we will find people alive.”
The list of unaccounted people was compiled from missing person reports and data collected at the reunification site at the Surfside Community Center.
[. . .] While the cause of the 12-story oceanfront condo tower’s collapse remains unknown, Levine Cava and other county officials confirmed that there was no sinkhole under the building.
[. . .] search and rescue teams were using everything at their disposal in the desperate search for life, cutting into the concrete with saws and using infrared cameras after boring through holes in the rubble, along with sonar and specially trained dogs. And when they think they have heard a noise, often the dozens of workers on site will go still and silent in the hope of figuring out where it came from, he said.
There have been reports that the building was sinking, and that this has been known for many years. From Miami CBS Local:
[. . .] engineers were in the middle of the required 40-year recertification. The tower was completed in 1981. It’s a 12-story oceanfront condo in Surfside with 136 units The condo association hired an engineer to deal with structural and electrical changes for the recertification process.
Perhaps what residents didn’t know was the building was sinking, according to Dr. Shimon Wdowinski, from FIU’s department of earth and environment.
“We used data from ‘93 to ’99, so that was the data available for that study and we saw there was some pockets of subsidence in Miami Beach,” he explained.
Wdowinski studies subsidence, which is the movement of the surface downward.
His study included Surfside, and specifically the Champlain Towers South.
[. . .] In his report, he noted the tower was built 41 years ago on reclaimed wetlands. It was sinking at a rate of 2mm a year for three decades, and that may have an impact on the structure.
Latest update from Governor De Santis: