Two other bodies were removed from the rubble of a 12-story condominium near Miami, which partially collapsed last month.
The remains of a 12-story building in South Florida that partially collapsed in the middle of the night last month will be demolished as early as Sunday, local officials said as an impending storm could topple the structure.
Two more bodies were removed from the rubble of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami, on Saturday, bringing the official number of deaths at 24. Search and rescue operations continued with 124 people still missing after the tower fell.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky told reporters that the demolition of what remained of the towers must take place as soon as possible because Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to reach southern Florida on Monday.
“We would have no control over where it lands,” he said.
Elsa was demoted Saturday from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 km / h (70 mph) as it grazed the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The long-range forecast track showed it was heading for Florida like a tropical storm on Tuesday morning, although some models are carrying it into the Gulf or along the Atlantic coast. Weather officials have warned that this could bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Miami area.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the Surfside building was “shaky” and “structurally unsound” and its demolition was the prudent thing to do.
“If the building is demolished, it will protect our search and rescue teams because we don’t know when it could fall,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “And, of course, with those gusts, it would potentially create a really serious danger.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has signed an order calling for the building to be demolished immediately and it could take place as early as Sunday, officials said.
“It’s our fervent desire to do this before the storm hits,” said Levine Cava. “Yes, we are concerned that tropical storm force winds will affect the stability of the vessel.”
Firefighters said the building would be removed in a controlled manner using explosive charges, not a wrecking ball or other methods. Contractors were inspecting the site on Saturday to develop a plan, officials said.
It’s still unclear what caused the building to collapse last month, but investigators have found evidence water damage and structural corrosion so severe that the building owners association estimated it would cost $ 15 million to repair.
The chairman of the Champlain Towers South condo association told residents in April that their building was in desperate need of structural problems, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
A 2018 report released after the building fell also showed that an engineer found evidence of major structural damage under the pool terrace and “concrete deterioration” in the condominium’s underground car park.
Engineer Frank Morabito warned that the waterproofing installed under the pool deck had failed due to a major design error.