The search for survivors of a building collapse in Miami entered their third day on Saturday (26). The latest toll released by local authorities, however, kept the death toll at four dead and 159 missing, lowering hopes that more people will be rescued alive from the rubble.
Among the relatives of the victims, the feeling of outrage has also gained ground following information published by the New York Times according to which, in 2018, an engineer report highlighted flaws in the structure of the Champlain Towers condominium. South, in the town of Surfside, north of Miami Beach, Florida.
According to the newspaper, the report points out that there was alarming evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab under the building’s pool deck and “profuse” cracks in the columns, beams and walls of the building. car park.
At the time, the engineer had been hired to help formulate a multi-million dollar renovation project, but which had yet to begin, nearly three years after the problems were discovered.
“Although some of this damage is minor, most of the deterioration in concrete needs to be repaired in a timely manner,” Frank Morabito wrote in his October 2018 report. The engineer gave no indication that the structure was at risk. to collapse, but noted that the necessary repairs would be aimed at “maintaining the structural integrity” of the building and its 136 units.
The cause of the collapse is still unknown. According to attorney Kenneth Direktor, who represents the condominium residents association, the tower has been inspected recently due to the mandatory recertification process for buildings over 40 years old and the construction of another building nearby.
In the scans, Direktor said, there was no indication that the collapse had anything to do with the problems identified during the inspection by the engineers. The lawyer claims that any oceanfront building the same age as the Champlain South Towers would have some level of corrosion and deterioration of the concrete due to exposure to sea salts which can enter structures and start rusting them. steel components.
For Eliana Salzhauer, Commissioner of Surfside, the problems identified in Morabito’s report may have contributed to the collapse. “It is disturbing to see these documents because the condominium board has been clearly informed that there are issues and apparently the issues raised have not been addressed.”
Images captured by a nearby security camera showed an entire side of the building collapsing into two sections, one after the other, raising clouds of dust around 1:30 a.m. (2:30 GMT) on Thursday.
It is still unclear how many people were living in the building or how many were there at the time of the crash. Some residents managed to exit the stairs on their own, while others had to be rescued from the porch. According to public records, the building was constructed in 1981 and had 136 units, of which around 80 were occupied and 55 damaged.
Survivor search teams use techniques created from rescue work in tragedies such as the 1995 attack on a federal building in Oklahoma City and the terrorist teardown of the World Trade Center in New York in 2001. include the division from zone to zone and the use of equipment to try to identify sounds of survivors in the rubble. While some professionals search for victims, others act to stabilize the ground, in order to prevent another collapse in the middle of the wreckage.
A five-year-old Brazilian child and his father, the Italian Alfredo Leone, are among the missing. The boy’s mother, Raquel Oliveira, was visiting family members in a Colorado state town around the time of the collapse. On her Facebook profile, she says her husband and son were asleep when the building collapsed and that she is waiting to hear from them.