Safety concerns over collapsed apartments in Florida halted rescue efforts
Officials said that due to concerns about the stability of the remaining structure, rescue work at the site of a partially collapsed apartment building in Florida stopped on Thursday after workers noticed a crack in a large pillar expanding and moving by a foot.
The work stoppage that began shortly after 2 am local time may keep the search team away from the rubble for an unknown period of time, and the hope of finding anyone in the rubble a week after the collapse of the tower becomes slim.
The rescue operation was cancelled on the same day that US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the affected communities.
At least 18 people were killed and 145 people were missing when the 12-storey Champlain Tanan beachfront apartment collapsed.Hundreds of search and rescue personnel searched the pancake rubble for possible signs of life, but no one was rescued Since the first few hours after the crash.
“This is life and death,” Biden said in a briefing. “We can do it, but the simple act of everyone doing what needs to be done will make a difference.”
He pointed out that “pain, anxiety and suffering” will lead to the need for psychological help in the coming days and months. “So, we are not going anywhere.”
Observed crack growth
The President met with emergency personnel and is also expected to meet with the families of people affected by the collapse before giving a further speech on Thursday afternoon.
After the staff noticed that the cracks they had been monitoring had expanded in several places, rescue work stopped. Alan Kominsky, head of Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, said they also observed 6 to 12 inches of movement on a large pillar hanging from the underground parking structure. “This may fall and damage the support pillar. “.
In addition, they noticed the movement of debris piles and some slight movements of concrete floor slabs, which he said “may cause additional failure of the building.”
Kominsky said that officials will work with structural engineers and other experts to “develop options” to continue rescue operations.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levin Kava said at a press conference that Biden’s visit “will not affect what happens on the spot.”
“As long as it is safe, the search and rescue operation will continue. The only reason for the suspension is concerns about the standing structure,” she said.
Try to keep looking
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that state engineers, fire departments and county officials are exploring options for how to deal with structural issues.
“Obviously, we think it is very, very important to continue the search,” DeSantis said, noting that the state will “provide any resources they need” to allow the search to continue.
Kominsky confirmed on Thursday that shortly after the building collapsed, workers tried to rescue a woman when they heard a sound in the rubble.
“We are looking for a female voice… We listened for a few hours, and finally we never heard her voice anymore,” he said.
Kominsky said they continued to search. “Unfortunately, we did not succeed in this regard,” he said.
More victims recover
Among the remains found on Wednesday were a mother and her two daughters, 4 and 10 years old. Kava said the loss was “too great to bear”.
The Miami-Dade police identified the children as 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara, and their mother was 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez. On Saturday, the body of 52-year-old father Marcus Guara was taken from the rubble and confirmed on Monday.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation. An engineering report in 2018 found that the bottom pool deck of the building was resting on a concrete slab, which had “major structural damage” and required extensive repairs.
The report also found “a lot of cracks” in the concrete columns, beams and walls of the parking lot.
Just two months before the building collapsed, the chairman of its board of directors wrote a letter to residents, stating that the structural problems found in the 2018 inspection were “significantly worse” and that overhauls required at least $15.5 million.
As bids for the project are still awaiting, the building suddenly collapsed last Thursday.