The death toll in a building collapse in Surfside, a city north of Miami Beach, in the US state of Florida, has risen to nine. On the fourth day of the search for victims in the middle of the mountains of rubble, the rescue teams found, this Sunday (27), four other bodies; 156 people are still missing.
“All it takes is on site to do the job [de busca], and we continue our efforts to find people alive, ”said Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade County.
Authorities said they still hoped to find survivors. With the help of trained dogs, sonar, drones and infrared scanning equipment, teams hope people can survive in air pockets that tend to form among rubble under similar circumstances.
Earlier this Sunday, fire starts under the tons of steel and concrete produced dense smoke that hampered the work of rescuers. The fire was brought under control and operations continued as normal.
“The most important thing now is hope,” said Fire Chief Alan Cominsky. “That’s what drives us. It’s an extremely difficult situation.”
Some families of missing persons have provided authorities with DNA samples to facilitate the work of identifying victims likely to be rescued. Police released the names of four victims aged 54 to 83.
Brazilian Erick de Moura, 40, a resident of Champlain Towers South, told Reuters news agency he should have been at home when the building collapsed, but his girlfriend convinced him to spend the night at her home, less than two miles away, in Miami Beach. . “Only for God. For me, it’s a miracle.”
Photographs of the missing were placed on a nearby fence, along with flowers and messages of solidarity to friends and family. On Saturday (26), a group of people gathered in prayer and kept watch in a secluded area on the beach by the authorities.
Some residents remain in the same building as the one that collapsed, where a voluntary evacuation order has been issued. A building inspection found no signs indicating damage to the building’s structure.
“I don’t know if I would be comfortable staying in this building,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett;
Local authorities said on Saturday that Miami-Dade County would conduct inspections of all buildings over 40 years old over the next 30 days to keep them safe.
A report from an engineer who analyzed the building in 2018 found that there was alarming evidence of “major structural damage” in the concrete slab under the building’s pool deck and “profuse” cracks in the floors. columns, beams and walls of the parking lot.
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.
Additionally, satellite data from the 1990s showed the building sinking 1 to 3 millimeters per year, while surrounding buildings were stable, according to Shimon Wdowinski, a professor at Florida International University.
Gregg Schlesinger, a lawyer and former general contractor specializing in construction failure cases, said other factors may have contributed to the collapse, but it was clear to him that the structural issues identified in the 2018 report in were the main cause.
He said the inevitable investigations and prosecutions will eventually paint a full picture of the cause of the disaster. “We know one thing: there was a structural failure, and it shouldn’t have happened.”