A plastic surgeon and his adopted daughter, a Bay of Pigs veteran and a wife who called her husband screaming as she saw her pool cave in are among at least 156 missing people more than 72 hours after the tragic Miami building collapse.
Officials said they were finding remains of humans on the site where 12 stories came crashing down on top of each other – and they were turning to DNA technology to determine peoples’ identities.
There was still hope that people would be found in air pockets in the rubble, which throughout Saturday still smoldered and even caught fire, but as time goes on, the mood has gotten more ominous.
Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton the wife who called her husband screaming as she saw the deck of her swimming pool cave in, has been pictured among the missing
Billedeau-Stratton, 40, had felt sudden shaking from her fourth-floor balcony as she watched the pool drop – immediately calling her husband Michael who was in Denver
Billedeau-Stratton has worked as an actress, model and Pilates instructor, bringing ‘a vivacious love of life to everything she does,’ her husband Mike Stratton, right, said in a statement
Many of the missing and their photos were being compiled by CBS4 reporter Frances Wang, who has spoken to friends and family.
Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton, the wife who called her husband screaming as she saw the deck of her swimming pool cave in, has been pictured among the missing.
Billedeau-Stratton, 40, had felt sudden shaking from her fourth-floor balcony as she watched the pool drop – immediately calling her husband Michael who was in Denver.
Michael Stratton, a Democratic political strategist from Colorado, told the Washington Post that ‘then the phone went dead.’
‘She screamed bloody murder and that was it,’ said Stratton’s sister, Ashley Dean.
Billedeau-Stratton has worked as an actress, model and Pilates instructor, bringing ‘a vivacious love of life to everything she does,’ her husband said in a statement.
‘Cassie is a wife, mother and true friend to so many,’ said Michael Stratton. He told Denver’s KMGH-TV that he and his wife spent much of their time during the coronavirus pandemic in the condo they have owned for four years.
Billedeau-Stratton loved walking and biking along the beach, her sister, Stephanie Fonte, told The New York Times. When the sisters were together, she often would make them pose for photos on the beach or near a burst of flowers.
Harry Rosenberg, who was being visited by his daughter and her husband, Malki and Benny Weiss, is among the missing
Malki Weiss and her husband Benny Weiss are also among the missing after visiting her father Harry Rosenberg
Harry ‘Haim’ Rosenberg, as well his daughter Malki Weiss and her husband Benny Weiss, are among the missing, according to NJ.com.
Rosenberg’s wife had died of cancer and both of his parents had recently died from COVID-19 so he had been living in Florida. His daughter and her husband were visiting from Lakewood, New Jersey.
A Lakewood rabbi, and friend of the family, said the orthodox community of which they were a part would continue to hold out hope until there was evidence of their death, the outlet reported.
‘[Rosenberg’s] wife died last year of cancer, and both his parents died from COVID,’ the rabbi said. ‘That’s one of the reasons he went down there, just to air out a little bit for a year.’
Chilean national Claudio Bonnefo, 85, and his wife Maria ‘Maricoy’ Obias-Bonnefoy, 69, were among at least 36 people from Latin American nations that are missing
Chilean national Claudio Bonnefo, 85, and his wife Maria ‘Maricoy’ Obias-Bonnefoy, 69, were among at least 36 people from Latin American nations that are missing, according to the Miami Herald. The couple were reported missing from Unit #1001.
Maricoy Obias-Bonnefoy, born in the Philippines, reportedly called her niece Irene Obias-Sanchez on Wednesday evening to discuss a family get-together planned for Sunday. It would have been one their first family gatherings since the pandemic as the Bonnefoys were strict about following lockdown restrictions.
‘I could have just texted her back like I often did, but last night it felt different. I knew she wanted to talk about a get-together we were planning on Sunday with my sisters. She was so excited to finally be able to socialize with family after everyone was vaccinated,’ Obias-Sanchez said.
Obias-Bonnefoy had immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s and worked at the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. before moving to retiring and moving to Surfside about 10 years ago, the Miami Herald reported.
Graciella Catarossi and her daughter Estella pictured here. They are missing along with Graciella’s elderly parents, and her sister Andrea who was visiting
Graciella Catarossi, 48, has been reported missing along with her daughter Estella, 7, and her elderly parents Gino Cattarossi and Graciela Ponce de León – as well as her sister Andrea, who was visiting.
Catarossi, an Argentinian, is a Miami based lifestyle photographer whose clients have included Conde Nast Traveler and Bank of America. Her mother is a Uruguayan national.
‘Graciela is a wonderful single mom, with many, many friends who love and care about her and her sweet daughter Stella,’ Monika Kramlik, a friend of the family, wrote in an email. ‘We are praying that they are found safe.’
Marina Azen, 77, said she has been a resident of the Champlain Towers for 20 years, according to family members who told the outlet that they hope she is one of the hospitals.
Azen’s niece Luz Marina Pena said her aunt, who lived on the fourth floor, suffered from asthma and lived alone, The Seattle Times reported.
‘I’m praying for a miracle,’ Pena said.
Juan Mora Sr. and wife Ana, shown in an old photo, lived in unit 1011, facing the ocean. Their son Juan Mora Jr., who was staying with them, is also missing
Juan Mora Sr., pictured, was a member of the Brigada 2506 – which fought in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion
Juan Mora Sr. and wife Ana were reported missing from their Unit 1011, facing the ocean. According to CBS Miami reporter Frances Wang, their son Juan Mora Jr. has also been unaccounted for as the family were in the apartment together.
In a post made to Facebook by a woman named Gina Breslin, it was revealed that Mora Sr. was a member of ‘Brigada 2506’ – which fought in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
‘Junior lived in Chicago; but decided to come home during the shutdown, so he could be with his parents, as he worked from home,’ the post reads.
The president of Paraguay’s sister-in-law and her family are among the 159 people currently unaccounted for in Miami after the 12-story apartment building collapsed overnight – as families desperately await news of their loved ones.
Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children are still missing, Paraguay’s foreign ministry confirmed on Thursday.
Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez’s wife Silvana. The family are said to have received their COVID-19 vaccines hours before the collapse, which also happened on Luis’s birthday.
Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children are among those unaccounted for in Miami after the 12-story apartment building collapsed overnight. Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez’s wife Silvana
Missing woman Leidy Luna Villalba, 23, a nanny employed by the sister of Paraguay’s first lady Silvana Lopez Moreir, is seen in photos from her Facebook page. At least 159 people remain missing after the collapse on June 24, 2021 of a wing of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Miami, Florida.
Leidy Luna Villalba, 23, moved to Surfside to take a well-paid job traveling with Moreira’s family to Miami in order to help her struggling family and pay her way through nursing school
Leidy Luna Villalba, 23, had never left her small town in Paraguay until she moved to Surfside to take a well-paid job traveling with Moreira’s family to Miami in order to help her struggling family and pay her way through nursing school.
She had previously spent a year working as a nanny for the first lady of Paraguay’s family, the Miami Herald reported.
Also missing is a famed Argentinian plastic surgeon Andres Galfrasconi, 45, and his partner as well as their newly-adopted six-year-old daughter.
Galfrasconi was visiting Miami with his partner Fabian Nunez, 55, and their daughter Sofia to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.
Argentinian singer Julia Zenko was one of Galfrasconi’s clients, with Zyri.net reporting she was ‘very distressed’ by his disappearance following the collapse.
The couple and their daughter were staying at an apartment owned by an unidentified friend, who says she has not been able to contact them.
Also missing is a famed Argentinian plastic surgeon Andres Galfrasconi, 45, and his partner as well as their newly-adopted six-year-old daughter
Andrés Galfrascoli, 45, his partner Fabián Nuñez , 55, and newly adopted daughter Sofia Nuñez Galfrascoli, 6, who had gone to spend a few days in Florida to rest and get vaccinated against the coronavirus
Edgar Gonzalez, who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC
Judy Spiegel, 66, the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel is also missing. The two lived together.
He confirmed in a text message to WRCBTV that she was still unaccounted for Thursday afternoon.
‘I’m flying to Miami now,’ he wrote. Please pray for her.’
Edgar Gonzalez, who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC.
Gonzalez’s wife and daughter are currently being treated in hospital, according to the family.
The family of Luis Barth say the 51-year-old was visiting from Colombia and was staying in a friend’s condo with his wife and daughter.
Barth’s brother Sergio, who lives in Miami, told The New York Times the condo they were staying in was on the collapsed side and that he has been unable to reach him.
Theresa Valasquez, 36, was visiting her parents Julio, 67, and Angela, 60, when the towers collapsed. Her brother David Velasquez wrote on Facebook that his sister had arrived at their parents’ condo on Wednesday, and have not been found.
Judy Spiegel, 66, (left) the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel, and Estelle Hedaya (right) are also missing. A friend told CBS 4 that she was on the phone with Hedaya for an hour and a half last night, but is currently unable to get hold of her
The family of Luis Barth say the 51-year-old was visiting from Colombia and was staying in a friend’s condo with his wife and daughter. The condo was on the collapsed side and no one has heard from any of them
Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, who has muscular dystrophy, is missing along with his mother Annie Ortiz, wife of Frankie Kleiman who was also inside the building
A friend of Estelle Hedaya, who is among the missing, told CBS4 that the two had spoken on the phone for an hour and a half last night, but is currently unable to get hold of her.
Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, is missing along with his mother Ana Ortiz. Bermudez reportedly has muscular dystrophy and cannot walk or call for help, a cousin said.
Alfredo Leone and his young son Lorenzo are also unaccounted for.
Elaine Sabino was on the 12th floor and is also still missing.
Pictured: Maria & Mihai Radulescu. Missing from Surfside building collapse apt #404.At least 159 people remain missing after the collapse on June 24, 2021 of a wing of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Miami, Florida.
Frankie Kleiman and his wife Annie Ortiz (left), along with Annie’s son Luis, are believed to have been inside the building when it collapsed. Frankie’s brother Jay (right) was visiting for a funeral. Frankie lives on the same floor as their mother Nancy
Linda March was living in penthouse 4 of the condo. She is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, a friend told Local 10.
Brothers Frankie and Jay Kleinman as well as their mother Nancy Kress Levin are also missing. They were with Annie Ortiz, her son Luis Bermudez as well as Deborah Berezdivin. A friend told the Miami Herald that all six are Puerto Rican.
Maria and Mihai Radulescu were reported missing from Unit #404. A woman named Gabrielle Emerson posted a photo of the couple with the caption: ‘Hopefully we will see them soon.’
Not much else is known about them, though they are pictured at a birthday celebration wearing festive party hates and enjoying the revelry.
Linda March, an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, was living in penthouse 4 of the condo
Francis Fernandez Placensia, a parishioner from Coral Gables’ Church of the Little Flower
Francis Fernandez Placensia was staying with a friend in the condo when she went missing during the building collapse
Leon Oliwkowicz, 79, and his wife Christina Elvira Oliwkowicz, 74, lived in Unit 704 and have been reported missing by their daughter
Francis Fernandez Plasencia, a mother of three, who was staying at a friend’s house in the condo is also missing. She is a parishioner of Coral Gables’ Church of the Little Flower, according to WSVN.
The family Michael Altman, who lives in Unit 1101, has checked the hospitals and filed a report, according to CBS Miami.
Leon Oliwkowicz, 79, and his wife Christina Elvira Oliwkowicz, 74, lived in Unit 704 and have been reported missing by their daughter.
Simon Segal, an engineer according to USA Today, was reported missing from Unit 1203. Segal is shown in this post by his niece, Melissa Goldstein Grosfeld, which reads: Our Uncle Simon Segal In the Champlain Towers unit 1203 is missing after the collapse- Prayers for all the families in this horrific tragedy.’
Engineer Simon Segal, who lived in the Champlain Towers unit 1203, is missing after the collapse
Engineer Simon Segal is shown in this post by his niece, Melissa Goldstein Grosfeld, which reads: Our Uncle Simon Segal In the Champlain Towers unit 1203 is missing after the collapse- Prayers for all the families in this horrific tragedy
Tzvi and Ingrd ‘Itty’ Ainsworth were celebrating the birth of two new grandchildren. Their son in South Africa recently had a baby and their son in Florida had a baby just days ago, their niece Chana Harrel told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The couple, who are in their 60s, lived in Australia for nearly two decades before returning to South Florida to be near their children. The couple had seven children and many live in South Florida, including their daughter just blocks away, she said.
‘Every person she encountered, ever in her life, became her friend. Everyone was treated as equals,’ Chana Wasserman wrote in a Mother’s Day blog post to her mother Itty last year.
‘The guy at the laundromat, the guy working at the fruit market … ‘
Ingrid struggled with chronic pain issues, but didn’t let that darken her mood. She tried to focus on the positive, a sunny day, a long car ride that would seem tedious to many she reframed as a chance to talk and catch up, he daughter wrote.
‘I know I will never be able to match my mother´s pure enthusiasm for life but it´s inspiring to watch,’ Wasserman wrote.
Itty’s mother, a Holocaust survivor living in Miami Beach, is battling cancer and doesn’t know about the tragedy.
‘They didn´t tell her. She´s not well,’ Harrel. said. ‘It´s absolutely horrific.’
Dr. Gary Cohen, was a physician at Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center in Alabama, and was also active in his local synagogue there. He is also among the missing
Brad Cohen was married to Soriya Cohen, who has spent hours outside the condo building, showing pictures of the siblings on her phone to anyone who will listen, desperate for updates
Dr. Brad Cohen, pictured, was a popular orthopedic surgeon who specialized in sports medicine
Brothers Brad and Gary Cohen were both medical doctors who were active in their local communities.
Brad Cohen was married to Soriya Cohen, who has spent hours outside the condo building, showing pictures of the siblings on her phone to anyone who will listen, desperate for updates.
‘We need every bit of help we can get. This is the difference between life and death for so many people including possibly my husband if he´s still alive,’ she told CBS News 4.
Dr. Brad Cohen was a popular orthopedic surgeon who specialized in sports medicine. A woman who answered the phone at his office Friday said, with sadness in her voice, that his patients adored him.
He did his residency at the State University of Stony Brook in New York and a fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, according to his website.
His brother, Dr. Gary Cohen, was a physician at Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center in Alabama, and was also active in his local synagogue there.
‘He spent many years providing care to our Veterans. He is part of the Tuscaloosa VAMC family and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this incredibly difficult time,’ according to a statement from John Merkle, director of the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.
Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way at 1.30am on Thursday. Their son, Jonathan, who lives in New York City said he hasn’t been able to contact them. ‘I’m trying to be a little optimistic, but I just don’t see it,’ he told WJXT . ‘It just doesn’t seem real, you know? Why this building? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know. I’m struggling to make sense of it’
David and Bonnie Epstein lived in unit 901 with their dog Chase, said Bonnie’s cousin Joey Feldman. David was a retired successful real estate investor who loved to jet ski and kite surf. The couple have a son who lives in New York. Feldman said the family is very small.
‘Bonnie was like my sister growing up,’ said Feldman, who lives in Los Angeles. ‘She took me to my first concert.’
He said he is devastated but is praying for a miracle.
‘I am holding out hope,’ he said. ‘I came into work to get my mind off of it. But no sleep.’
Hilda Noriega had called Champlain Towers home for more than 20 years. But six years after her husband died, the 92-year-old was ready to leave.
‘We were going to move her into our home and her condo was up for sale,’ said Sally Noriega, her daughter-in-law.
Sally Noriega said her mother-in-law was extremely active and loved living so close to the ocean and to her friends.
But, she said, ‘when you lose a spouse you want to be surrounded by family … and she wanted to spend more time with her family and grandchildren.’
Hilda Noriega’s daughter-in-law described her as ‘an extremely loving and sweet person,’ who built a life with her husband and raised a family after coming to the U.S. from Cuba in 1960.
‘She was just one of those people who from the first time she met a person she instantly loved that person and that person instantly loved her,’ said Sally Noriega, who rushed to the scene of the collapse with her husband, Carlos Noriega.
There, they found a reminder of the particularly strong bond Hilda Noriega shared with members of her church group. As they stood trying to hold onto hope amid the rubble, Carlos Noriega noticed an envelope peeking out from under his shoe.
‘On the outside it was addressed to Hilda and the card had butterflies on it and it was a birthday card signed by her prayer group,’ said Sally Noriega. ‘They had taken her out for her birthday and they all signed the card.’
Sally Noriega said the family does not know what to make of the card found among so much debris and chaos.
But, ‘we are a family of faith,’ she said. ‘We´ll just leave it at that.’
Myriam Caspi Notkin, 81, and her husband, Arnold ‘Arnie’ Notkin, 87, married about 20 years ago after losing their spouses, according to a family friend.
‘They were a happy couple. We´re hoping for a miracle,’ said Fortuna Smukler, a North Miami Beach commissioner who grew up with Myriam Notkin’s three daughters. When they ran into each other as adults, Notkin always recalled her friendship with Smukler’s mother, who died 40 years ago.
‘Every time Myriam would see me, she always had to make a point of saying how wonderful my mother was,’ Smukler said. ‘She was very thoughtful.’
Smukler also knew Arnie Notkin dating back to his days as a physical education teacher and coach at Leroy D. Fienberg Elementary School in South Beach in the 1960s. He had an engaging personality and always had a story to tell.
‘He had students who became famous, and he had to tell me about them, how they were good or mischievous,’ she said.
Ricky Rovirosa and his wife, Maituca Rovirosa, are pictured in a photo posted by his cousin Carolina Rovirosa Marrelli
Maria Theresa and Ricky Rovirosa are a ‘perfect match’ who support each other and others, according to longtime friend Monika Mucarsel Gressier.
The couple has two grown children they raised in their South Miami home, and used their Surfside condo as a part-time summer getaway. Gressier was living in California when she met Maria Theresa, whom she called Maituca, through work.
‘We became instant friends,’ Gressier said in a text message. ‘She was one reason that gave me security and support for accepting a relocation to live in Miami. Maituca became my family support and always gave me and others the resources and guidance to navigate through the city of Miami.’
Gressier described Ricky as charming and his wife as ‘stunningly beautiful’ inside and out.
‘When I think of them, I think of one of my favorite memories of the times I watched them dance salsa and how loving they were always to each other,’ Gressier wrote.
‘I am praying and hoping that they will survive this tragedy, as I know the strength, they both carry within, and I also know that their tremendous love for their girls and family will keep them fighting to survive this.’
The University of Chicago chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement said one of its members Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin (pictured) were still missing. Writing on Instagram, the group said: ‘Please pray for Ilan Ben Ronit and Deborah Bat Talia Chaya. They are dear friends, gems whom we love dearly. Ilan is a student at UChicago and the President of our Chabad Student Board. They are both family.’
Bhavna Patel, a 38-year-old British and US citizen, her husband Vishal Patel, 42, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani remain unaccounted for. Her devastated family said that Ms Patel is ‘an angel.’ The mother is also expecting another child
Ilian Naibryf has been an active member of the Jewish community at the University of Chicago since arriving at the school three years ago, said Rabbi Yossi Brackman of the school’s Rohr Chabad.
Naibryf, who just finished his junior year, served as the president of the Chabad House´s student board for the past year. He and his girlfriend were in Florida to attend a funeral of a friend who had died of COVID-19, his parents told CNN.
‘He is a really great guy, very friendly, always has a smile on his face and is just a really all-around well-liked person,’ Brackman said.
Brackman said the Rohr Chabad community is distraught but hopeful.
‘Our message is one of hope and we encourage everyone to pray and be kind at this difficult time for many people,’ he said. ‘We believe in miracles, seen them and hope to see them again.’
Bhavna Patel, a 38-year-old British and US citizen, her husband Vishal Patel, 42, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani remain unaccounted for, a relative told Sky News. Bhavna had been expecting another baby.
Their devastated friend Vishal Abash described Bhavna ‘as an angel, a sweet kind loving woman … very loving, very unconditional love, I never heard her say a bad word about anyone since the day I met her.’
He said that the couple were heaven sent, adding that ‘now maybe God has come to reclaim his angels.’
Scientists discovered a year ago that 12-floor Miami condo was SINKING and needed extensive repairs for rusted steel and damaged concrete – as it’s revealed work on roof may have triggered deadly collapse leaving 99 missing
Scientists had warned that the 12-story Miami condo building was sinking and in a potentially dangerous condition one year before it collapsed Thursday, killing at least one person and leaving 99 missing.
A 2020 study from Florida International University found the Champlain Towers South sea-view condo development was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s because it sits on reclaimed wetlands.
The oceanfront building was also due to have its safety recertified for the first time in 40 years this year which included the need for ‘extensive repairs for rusted steel and damaged concrete’ on parts of the structure.
It has also been revealed that the tower had recently undergone construction work on its roof, sparking fears this may have piled on additional weight to the sinking structure.
Authorities have not yet determined what caused the collapse and Miami-Dade police have opened an investigation – though Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said ‘there has been no evidence found of foul play.’
As questions mount over the cause of the tragedy and whether it could have been avoided, the hunt for survivors and victims in the rubble continued into a second day Friday.
A total of 55 condos collapsed on Thursday – more than a third of the 136 within the building – with most belonging to first-time homeowners.
The tower has a mix of seasonal and year-round residents, meaning authorities are unsure exactly how many people were inside when it collapsed. However, officials believe the building was ‘substantially full’ at the time.
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The contents of condominiums spilled out onto the street in a horrific scene in the aftermath of the building’s collapse in Miami. Search and rescue workers were on the job on 7pm to 7am shifts – and weren’t expected to stop anytime soon
Emergency crews respond to a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach in Florida
Search and rescue personnel have the grim task of pulling a covered body out of the rubble after the partial collapse
The tragic scene was likely to be repeated as rescuers pulled a covered body out of the wreckage with 99 people missing
A lightning strikes above the Champlain Towers South as Search and Rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, north of Miami Beach
A shot from a video posted by the Miami Dade fire department shows firefighters in the rubble trying to find people
A Google Street View image shows the tower before its horrific collapse on Thursday
An advertisement for the Champlain Towers is seen in the 1980s. The Champlain Towers South sea-view condo development was built in 1981 by the late developer Nathan Reiber’s company Nattel Construction at 8777 Collins Avenue in the southeast corner of Surfside but hasn’t been updated significantly since then
Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports because he had studied the building for the report published last year.
‘I looked at it this morning and said “Oh my god.” We did detect that,’ he said.
Wdowinski said he found that Champlain Towers South was sinking at a rate of around 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s due to its position on wetlands but that rate could have slowed down or sped up since then.
However, the land’s slow sinking alone would not have caused the building to collapse, he said.
‘It was a byproduct of analyzing the data. We saw this building had some kind of unusual movement,’ Wdowinski told USA Today.
The paper was published in April 2020 in the academic journal Ocean and Coastal Management and was part of a wider look at how buildings in Miami were sinking generally with rising sea levels caused by climate change.
‘In some locations, as in the eastern part of the city, the detected subsidence [sinking] is of a 12-story high condominium building,’ the paper ominously warns.
It’s not immediately clear if the 12-story building referenced in the paper is the condo that collapsed. It’s also not clear if any officials took note of the paper when it comes to shoring up any dangerous conditions in the area.
In a video posted by FIU, Wdowinski said hundreds of buildings can be sinking bit-by-bit – and hundreds of buildings can have cracks, not just in Miami.
What would cause one to collapse would be an engineering problem, he said.
Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today that he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports because he had studied the building for the report published last year
Wdowinski, who has previously conducted a number of land subsidence studies including one in Mexico City, noted in the video on Thursday that the tragic Mexico City Metro overpass collapse on May 3 that killed 26 people and injured 79 others had happened in an area where he had previously detected land subsidence.
The Champlain Towers South development was built in 1981 by the late developer Nathan Reiber’s company Nattel Construction at 8777 Collins Avenue in the southeast corner of Surfside, but the structure hasn’t been updated significantly since then.
It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market at the time of the collapse with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000. Some have sold for more than $2 million.
The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists.
Local officials have said the condo block was right in the middle of going through a recertification process required by Miami Dade building code – which dictates that buildings have to be re-certified every 40 years. The building was due to be recertified for the first time since its construction this year.
Kenneth Direktor, a lawyer for the Champlain Towers South Association, told The Miami Herald on Thursday that to prepare for the recertification process an engineer had been hired to plan ‘structural and electrical’ updates but that work hadn’t started yet.
He told The New York Times that the building had been about to undergo ‘extensive repairs for rusted steel and damaged concrete’ but that he had seen nothing to suggest the collapse was related to issues identified in the engineering review.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida
A huge emergency search and rescue operation is underway after the beachfront condo tower, Champlain Towers South, collapsed at about 1.30am this morning in the Miami neighborhood of Surfside. One woman has been confirmed dead and at least eight people were injured
Hundreds of firefighters were seen walking through the wreckage, picking up other survivors and carrying them away. Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble
Direktor added that any waterfront building as old as the Champlain Towers would have some corrosion and concrete deterioration and insisted on Thursday that it was too early to speculate about what had happened.
The Miami Herald reported that Frank Morabito was the engineer retained by the Champlain towers but that he could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Direktor told The Washington Post on Thursday that the building was ‘thoroughly inspected’ recently as part of the recertification process and that a report on the inspection was sent to town authorities.
He described the report’s findings as ‘fairly typical’ for a building of its age and ‘did not cast doubt on its structural integrity,’ according to the outlet.
‘There was nothing in the report that would have indicated a life-safety concern,’ he told The Washington Post.
Rescue teams rescued 35 people from the damaged building and two people, including the young boy, were pulled from the rubble in the early stages of the search operation
The surveillance video, obtained by WSVN, shows portions of the 12-story Miami Beach apartment building crumbling and sending a huge cloud of debris into the air when it collapsed in the middle of the night
Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett said roof renovations were being done on the property but that they should not have contributed to the collapse.
‘The building has literally pancaked. That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive,’ he said.
He instead described the collapse as a ‘catastrophic failure’ of the building.
‘It’s hard to imagine how this could have happened,’ Burkett said. ‘Buildings just don’t fall down… There’s no reason for this building to go down like that unless someone literally pulls the supports out from underneath.’
He suggested that potential causes could be the result of the foundations being washed out or a sinkhole.
JJI Supply, a general contracting company based in West Palm Beach, received a notice in April about the re-roofing of the building, The Real Deal reported. The outlet obtained records showing that Debra and Edward Campany of West Palm Beach lead the general contracting business.
Bruce Masia of KW Property Management & Consulting told Florida’s Biz Journal that the ongoing roof renovation on the property could have added extra weight that the building couldn’t withstand.
‘Buildings don’t fall down right away. They fall down because there are problems and those problems need attention,’ he said.
However, Surfside Vice Mayor Tina Paul told The Washington Post on Thursday that Champlain Towers South passed a roof inspection on Wednesday – the day before the collapse.
Jeff Rose, a contractor whose parents live in the building, told the Miami Herald that he had done renovations for some of the condos and that work on the roof had started about six weeks ago.
He added that some concrete restoration work was also being done to fix old or damaged concrete but that the concrete work was not out of the ordinary.
‘I didn’t notice anything I haven’t seen in many other buildings in South Florida,’ Rose told the outlet.
However, an engineer who specializes in concrete repair projects told the Miami Herald that one potential structural flaw called ‘concrete spalling’ jumped out at him when he watched video of the collapse
The engineer, Greg Batista, described the flaw as ‘concrete cancer’ and said that it happens when salt water seeps into porous concrete causing steel rebar in the support beams to rust and expand – which can break the concrete and weaken the beams.
Rescuers pull a body out of the rubble of the collapsed condo in a harrowing sight as they work through the night
A front end loader shifts rubble mixed with furniture and household items, as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed, late on Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami
A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team sprays water onto the rubble as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday
Workers ride in a lift as smoke rises off the rubble where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday
A map shows the location of the Champlain Towers in the Miami Beach area
Surfside Commissioner Charles Kesl told Local 10 that there were also ‘garage underground issues’ found during various inspections recently relating to the recertification process.
‘And, to my understanding, there were some cracks from that project – minor cracks – that were just patched up. Nothing, based on my understanding, to the magnitude that would indicate that there was a structural problem that could result in something so catastrophic,’ Kesl said.
Kit Miyamoto, chair of the California Seismic Safety Commission also spoke to Anderson Cooper and said that Miami-Dade has actually good standards to examine buildings every year.
Miyamoto said it appears likely that corrosion was a culprit as the side of the building that collapsed was the side facing the ocean. Salt water could have gotten in and corroded the metal columns in the building.
If the soil is settling, that also could have affected the columns, as they get pulled in as the ground settles, Miyamoto said.
Miyamoto called rescue efforts ‘extremely dangerous’ but that ‘there’s definitely still hope’ that survivors of the building collapse could be found.
Even with concrete floors sandwiched on top of each other, air pockets are likely. People have been found in similar wreckage ‘days after,’ he said.
Kobi Karp, an architect whose firm has worked on prominent Surfside and Miami Beach buildings, told The New York Times that the way the building had collapsed suggested a ‘possible internal failure.’
He said the internal failure may have been caused by ‘deterioration at the point where a horizontal slab of the building meets a vertical support wall’ – which he explained to the outlet could lead one of the building’s floors to suddenly fall and take the rest of the building down.
Karp said that such a deterioration could have happened either slowly over years or suddenly if the structure of the building was unintentionally damaged.
Some people in Surfside had previously raised concerns about the integrity of the aging building.
Barry Cohen, 63, the former vice mayor of Surfside, said he raised concerns years ago about whether nearby construction might be causing damage to the building after seeing cracked pavers on the pool deck.
In 2015, a resident also sued in 2015 claiming building management did nothing to repair cracks from water damage.