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Joe and Jill Biden will visit the collapsed Miami condo on Thursday


President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside, Florida on Thursday to visit the site of the collapsed condo building.

The Bidens will likely meet with first responders and family members of victims of the disaster. 

Biden previewed the trip as he departed the White House Tuesday morning for Wisconsin, with the White House making it official moments later. 

President Joe Biden previewed the trip to reporters as he exited the White House Tuesday morning en route to Wisconsin 

Crews from the United States and Isral work in the rubble of Champlain Towers South on Tuesday. The Bidens will be on the ground in Florida on Thursday

Crews from the United States and Isral work in the rubble of Champlain Towers South on Tuesday. The Bidens will be on the ground in Florida on Thursday 

A makeshift memorial for victims of the condo collapse has been erected as 150 people remain missing in the rubble

A makeshift memorial for victims of the condo collapse has been erected as 150 people remain missing in the rubble 

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the 12-story Champlain Towers South beachfront building crumbled to the ground. There are now 11 confirmed fatalities, with two bodies discovered on Monday. Around 150 people are still missing.   

Biden pledged federal support almost immediately and was in touch with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, first calling him Friday afternoon. 

The president approved an emergency declaration for Miami-Dade County, which authorizes FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts. 

FEMA- supported rescue teams were sent to the site.  

DeSantis, a Republican and ally of former President Donald Trump, was in Surfside Monday for a press conference and talked about the federal investigation into the collapse. 

A team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is part of the Department of Commerce, is in the preliminary stages of a probe. 

DeSantis predicted the investigation would take ‘at least a couple of years.’ 

‘[NIST’s investigation] is going to be something that’s important. It is something it’s going to be very thorough, and is something that is not going to happen in a day or two. This is going to take a long time. That’s the time horizon they work on,’ the Florida governor said Monday. 

DeSantis also pledged to give state and local resources over to investigators. 

‘I think the people of Florida want to understand: How could this happen? And then what could we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?’ he said. ‘We’ll be working on that for the long term.’  

Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (left) walks with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) as they head to a press conference near the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers on Monday

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (left) walks with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) as they head to a press conference near the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers on Monday 

The condo board of the collapsed Champlain Towers South in Miami told residents damage had become ‘significantly worse’ in an April letter where they gave them a $15.5million bill for repairs. 

The damage was first identified in 2018 by an engineer who had been hired to review the building. He warned of a ‘major error’ and found extensive concrete spalling in the parking garage, among other problems on the pool deck, roof and balconies of the building.

The condo board – a group of seven people, five of whom lived in the building and one of whom is still missing –  started meeting to determine how they were going to pay for the repairs and when they would do them but none of the work had actually begun and it’s unclear if they’d even finalized funding for it. 

In April, the board president Jean Wodnicki sent a letter to residents of the 136-unit building to give them a breakdown of the cost of the repairs and to warn them that it was getting worse. 

‘When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface. 

‘The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated. 

‘Indeed the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection,’ she said. 

In that letter, she said they were still trying to finalize a loan from Valley bank to pay for the repairs (they tried to get a loan first from Banco Popular but the deal fell through) and that the total cost was more than $16million and the board had just $707,000 in cash reserves, leaving them with a bill for around $15million.  

The owners of the building’s 136 units would be responsible for repaying it and each was on the hook for a different amount depending on how big their unit was. 

They were given until July 1 to decide if they were going to pay for it all up front or in monthly installments over 15 years.  

A one-bedroom apartment owner, for example, was given a bill for $80,000 but someone in a four-bedroom penthouse was asked to fork out $336,000, residents told CNN. Some of the owners were elderly couples who’d bought their property to retire.  They said the bill came as a surprise. 

This is a breakdown of the repairs that were needed to Champlain Towers South and how much they were going to cost residents. The  most expensive item was a $4million facade, balcony and railing repair. Residents questioned much of the breakdown

This is a breakdown of the repairs that were needed to Champlain Towers South and how much they were going to cost residents. The  most expensive item was a $4million facade, balcony and railing repair. Residents questioned much of the breakdown 

The condo board only had $707,003 in cash from homeowners fees to pay for the repairs so it left a huge sum - $15.5million - that suddenly had to be covered. The board was in the process of securing a loan from the bank Valley to pay for it, and they were asking residents to repay them either in lump sums or over 15 years, in monthly payments, to pay it back. The first loan they'd tried to secure from Banco Popular fell through but they were trying to finalize it for months, the letter reveals

The condo board only had $707,003 in cash from homeowners fees to pay for the repairs so it left a huge sum – $15.5million – that suddenly had to be covered. The board was in the process of securing a loan from the bank Valley to pay for it, and they were asking residents to repay them either in lump sums or over 15 years, in monthly payments, to pay it back. The first loan they’d tried to secure from Banco Popular fell through but they were trying to finalize it for months, the letter reveals 

Wodnicki, the board president, wrote that 'a lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by but this is where we are now'. There is no requirement to undergo repairs or reviews periodically aside from the 40-year recertification process and that is only in Miami Dade County, not the whole of Florida

Wodnicki, the board president, wrote that ‘a lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by but this is where we are now’. There is no requirement to undergo repairs or reviews periodically aside from the 40-year recertification process and that is only in Miami Dade County, not the whole of Florida 

COST OF REPAIRS AND HOW CONDO BOARD ONLY HAS $700K TO PAY FOR THEM

2018 cost: $12million 

2021 cost: $16million 

Cash on hand: $707,000 

Cash needed: $15.5million 

What each owner owed: 

$80,000-$336,000 depending on apartment size 

How to pay

Lump sum or in monthly installments of $500 or more for 15 years 

Units in building: 136 

‘We struggled with it and everything,’ Isabel Aguero, who lives on the 11th floor with her husband and who is retired, told CNN. 

Her son Alberto was visiting. He said he was angry when he found out the condo board knew about the necessary repairs in 2018 but hadn’t started them yet. 

‘I was pretty angry at that point, angry that innocent lives had to be lost.’ 

The condo board has been mostly quiet since the collapse. One of its members –  Nancy Kress Levin – is missing. Her son Frank Kleiman, 50, also lived in the building and died along with his wife Ana and his stepson, Luiz, who was disabled. Nancy’s other adult son Jay was visiting for a funeral and he is missing.  

A lawyer for the board, Donna DiMaggio Berger, told DailyMail.com it’s not fair to lay the blame for the collapse with the seven volunteers who served on it, and said they have lost just as much as anyone else involved. 

‘There’s too much murkiness here. It’s easy to take a hands off approach but I don’t think putting those kind of burdens on volunteer board members who are just living in the building like everybody else…’ she said on Friday.   

She added that a ‘perfect storm’ led to the delays. ‘I know there were concrete repairs that needed to take place which is very typical for a coastal property. 

‘The concrete work was out to bid. In Florida, boards are required to get competitive bids.

Among the repairs listed was $722,077 on 'hallway repairs' that the residents questioned because it was so expensive. The 'hallway project' was in the works before the 2018 report shed light on other repairs that were needed

Among the repairs listed was $722,077 on ‘hallway repairs’ that the residents questioned because it was so expensive. The ‘hallway project’ was in the works before the 2018 report shed light on other repairs that were needed

‘That was still outstanding and those are still coming in they don’t have a sufficient number of bids yet on that work… one of the other problems we have here is one we’re in hurricane season, we have to get competitive bids, we now have a bunch of older high rises that are racing to comply with the deadline to install engineered life safety systems.

‘They’re looking for engineers right now to install sprinklers, the deadline is the end of 2023. We really do have a perfect storm going on right now,’ she said.

Wodnicki, in her letter, admitted that some of the repairs could have been done earlier but ‘this is where we are now’, she said.  

In the time between the first recommendation for repairs in 2018 and 2020, the cost of them jumped by around $3million because the damage had worsened. 

‘It is impossible to know the extent of the damage to the underlying rebar until the concrete is opened up. Oftentimes the damage is more extensive than can be determined by inspection of the surface. 

Wodnicki concluded: ‘A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now. 

Men's shirts and women's heels are among the rubble of the site on Tuesday morning. Crews are still working to find any survivors six days after the collapse

Men’s shirts and women’s heels are among the rubble of the site on Tuesday morning. Crews are still working to find any survivors six days after the collapse

Suitcases and other household items are scattered among collapsed wall and ceiling. Rescue teams have so far only found one person alive in the wreckage

Suitcases and other household items are scattered among collapsed wall and ceiling. Rescue teams have so far only found one person alive in the wreckage 

Tributes on the beach next to the collapsed condo on Tuesday morning. There are fears for the two that are next to it and were built by the same developer

Tributes on the beach next to the collapsed condo on Tuesday morning. There are fears for the two that are next to it and were built by the same developer

Search and rescue teams at dawn on Tuesday morning after working through the night to try to find survivors

Search and rescue teams at dawn on Tuesday morning after working through the night to try to find survivors 

This is the scale of the debris, shown overnight as search and rescue teams used cranes to sift through the rubble

This is the scale of the debris, shown overnight as search and rescue teams used cranes to sift through the rubble 

‘DEVASTATED’ CONDO BOARD SAYS ‘PERFECT STORM’ LED TO REPAIR DELAYS

Nancy Kress Levin is still missing. She is one of the seven volunteers who serves on the condo association board. Nancy's 50-year-old son Frank Kleiman is among the dead. He lived in the building with his wife, Ana, and Ana's 26-year-old disabled son, both of whom are also dead. Her other son Jay was visiting for a funeral. He is missing

Nancy Kress Levin is still missing. She is one of the seven volunteers who serves on the condo association board. Nancy’s 50-year-old son Frank Kleiman is among the dead. He lived in the building with his wife, Ana, and Ana’s 26-year-old disabled son, both of whom are also dead. Her other son Jay was visiting for a funeral. He is missing

The condo board at Champlain Towers South that was tasked with organizing repairs was made up of just seven volunteer residents, one of whom is a Cuban immigrant grandmother who remains missing. 

The board were all volunteers who agreed to serve before the building collapsed on Thursday at 1.30am. It’s unclear if they got any form of payment for it. 

They were in charge of recertifying the building, handling maintenance, and all other repairs. In 2018, they hired the engineer who produced a report detailing the repairs and they were in the process of trying to get loans to pay for the work and hire teams to actually do it when the building collapsed. 

Nancy Kress Levin was one of the board members. She is among the people who remain missing in the rubble. 

The other six made it out alive and are in a house together. Their lawyer Donna DiMaggio Berger told DailyMail.com they are ‘just as devastated’ as anyone else. 

‘They are devastated. The tears have not stopped. There’s shock, disbelief, grief. This was a close knit community,’ Berger said. 

She also revealed that they hadn’t secured a condo board hadn’t yet secured a team to do the concrete repairs on the building that were required because there was a shortage in the number of available contractors thanks to other Miami buildings racing to update their sprinkler systems, a lawyer said. 

Donna DiMaggio Berger, a lawyer for the board, told DailyMail.com that they were also racing against hurricane season which would hinder any work.

‘I know there were concrete repairs that needed to take place which is very typical for a coastal property. The concrete work was out to bid. In Florida, boards are required to get competitive bids.

‘That was still outstanding and those are still coming in they don’t have a sufficient number of bids yet on that work… one of the other problems we have here is one we’re in hurricane season, we have to get competitive bids, we now have a bunch of older high rises that are racing to comply with the deadline to install engineered life safety systems.

‘They’re looking for engineers right now to install sprinklers, the deadline is the end of 2023. We really do have a perfect storm going on right now,’ she said. 

She also suggested it wasn’t fair to blame the condo board – a volunteer group of seven residents – for the collapse. 

‘There’s entirely too much murkiness here. It’s easy to take hands off approach but I don’t think putting those kind of burdens on the shoulder of volunteer board members – people who are just living in the building like everybody else – who have stepped up and said OK I’ll serve on the board…’ she tailed off.  

‘We have discussed, debated, and argued for years now, and will continue to do so for years to come as different items come into play.’  

Morabito on Monday released a statement saying he recommended the changes three years ago to the condo association – a board of seven volunteers, five of whom were living in the building and one of whom remains missing. 

The cost of the repairs he suggested was $12million, which would have had to have been paid for with money raised through condo fees. 

‘Morabito Consultants was retained in 2018 by the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association to prepare the 40-year-old recertification of the condo building. We completed our inspection and provided our report to the condo association on October 8, 2018, detailing our findings and recommendations.

‘We provided the condo association with an estimate of the probable costs to make the extensive and necessary repairs. 

‘Among other things, our report detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure safety of the residents and public. 

A twilight vigil was held on Monday evening for those still trapped in the building

A twilight vigil was held on Monday evening for those still trapped in the building

Authorities in Florida say that 150 people are still unaccounted for inside the tower. Eleven bodies have been recovered

Authorities in Florida say that 150 people are still unaccounted for inside the tower. Eleven bodies have been recovered

FEARS FOR 2 SISTER TOWERS WHERE THERE’S SIMILAR DAMAGE 

Residents in the sister towers of the Miami condo building that collapsed last week are terrified their homes may crumble too because they have similar concrete damage in their parking garages to what experts have said may have brought the first building down.

Yards away from the collapsed tower is Champlain Towers East and Champlain Towers North, two almost identical buildings where people are still in their homes. 

Aerial view of Champlain Towers South (collapsed), Champlain Towers East and Champlain Towers North. Residents have now been offered the chance to voluntarily evacuate the North and East buildings ahead of detailed safety inspections

Aerial view of Champlain Towers South (collapsed), Champlain Towers East and Champlain Towers North. Residents have now been offered the chance to voluntarily evacuate the North and East buildings ahead of detailed safety inspections

They have not been evacuated yet despite neighbors identifying damage in the parking garage that is similar to the kind of concrete spalling in the South tower.  

On Monday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett didn’t order those residents to leave their homes but he issued a grave warning. He said he wouldn’t feel safe spending just one night in the buildings.

'I am afraid that there could be some issue in our building that will result in what we saw in Champlain Towers South,' said Champlain Towers East resident Robert Lisma

‘I am afraid that there could be some issue in our building that will result in what we saw in Champlain Towers South,’ said Champlain Towers East resident Robert Lisma

Robert Lisman spoke to local news outlets after spotting the huge chunk of concrete gouged out of the column of nearby Champlain Towers East, where he lives. 

A rusted metal ‘rebar’ – used to reinforce concrete used in construction – was visible as a result of the damage, likely caused by sea air getting into the column and rusting the steel. 

Despite noting the damage, he said he isn’t leaving and is confident the building is safe. 

‘I am afraid that there could be some issue in our building that will result in what we saw in Champlain Towers South.’ 

‘I have concerns, but I’m not panicking. I know that there are things we need to address and look at, but there’s no imminent threat,’ he told NBC. 

Lisman added that he was ‘confident’ that Champlain Towers East was still structurally safe, but said of planners and engineers now inspecting local properties: ‘Their decisions have life and death consequences. And so when I’m told there’s nothing to worry about, it’s trust but verify.’  

An attorney for the condo association, Donna DiMaggio Berger, told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday that the 2018 report was fairly routine and didn’t raise alarms. 

‘Concrete spalling, rebar deterioration – these are not unusual events when you have buildings exposed to corrosive conditions,’ Berger said. 

Also on Monday, it emerged that a penthouse was added to the building plans after they were initially submitted.

The plans for the 1981 building proposed 12 floors of residential units.

The developer decided to add a penthouse, which increased the building’s height by about nine feet with an additional floor. 

The penthouse made the tower slightly above the town’s legal height ordinance at the time, but the Surfside town commission granted a special exemption to local height limits.

It was too early to say whether the penthouse would have affected the building structurally, and investigators will be probing all aspects of its construction and design.

Manuel Jurado, an engineer who worked on the Champlain Towers South project, told The Wall Street Journal he was skeptical of criticisms over the design and engineering work. 

‘If there was a major error, it would have surfaced within a year or two,’ he said. 

‘There were no problems that presented themselves’ in the design process, he said, and the project unfolded smoothly. 

It has now emerged that the collapse began in the bottom of the building and brought the rest of it down with it in a ‘domino effect’. 

Officials won’t yet comment on what exactly brought the 40-year-old tower down but experts who have viewed footage of it say it started with a problem in the bottom of the building – perhaps the parking garage – and once that crumbled, huge swathes of the building came down with it.  

Some experts say it could have been the result of eroded columns collapsing under the weight the building. 

The cause of the erosion could have been spalling, which occurs when salt air gets into the column and rusts the steel inside. 

The only work that was underway was on the roof but officials say that did not contribute to the collapse. 

‘There was no inordinate amount of equipment or materials or anything on that roof that caught my building official’s eye that would make it alarming as to this place collapsing,’ Surfside’s building official James ‘Jim’ McGuinness said, adding that the cause of the collapse remains under investigation.   

A lawyer for the board who last week told DailyMail.com that it was unfair to lay the blame with the volunteers did not respond to requests on Monday afternoon. 

Meanwhile, engineering and construction experts who have studied video of the collapse say it indicates the columns in the parking garage buckled, and triggered a ‘domino effect’ catastrophe.   

‘When caustic salt air works its way in though and rusts out the steel, the structural bearing capacity of the column is compromised. 

The bottom center of the building was the first to collapse at around 1.30am on Thursday morning. The bottom gave out and then the other parts of the building followed seconds later

The bottom center of the building was the first to collapse at around 1.30am on Thursday morning. The bottom gave out and then the other parts of the building followed seconds later

The rear of the center column was second to collapse, just a few seconds after the front of it crumbled from the bottom

The rear of the center column was second to collapse, just a few seconds after the front of it crumbled from the bottom

The eastern part of the tower was the last to fall, six seconds after the center began crumbling from the bottom

The eastern part of the tower was the last to fall, six seconds after the center began crumbling from the bottom 

In his October 2018 report, engineer Frank Morabito told the condo board association of spalling in the parking garage columns that needed repair. Experts told DailyMail.com on Monday that such spalling in concrete columns in the parking garage could have caused the collapse, and that it was likely caused by sea air rusting the steel inside the columns

In his October 2018 report, engineer Frank Morabito told the condo board association of spalling in the parking garage columns that needed repair. Experts told DailyMail.com on Monday that such spalling in concrete columns in the parking garage could have caused the collapse, and that it was likely caused by sea air rusting the steel inside the columns 

The collapse began at 1.30am and was over in less than ten seconds. It started in the center front portion, next to the pool, in the basement or the parking garage where an engineer had identified spalled concrete columns. Next, the hind portion of that middle section fell, before the east section collapsed

The collapse began at 1.30am and was over in less than ten seconds. It started in the center front portion, next to the pool, in the basement or the parking garage where an engineer had identified spalled concrete columns. Next, the hind portion of that middle section fell, before the east section collapsed 

Frank Morabito, the engineer who was hired by the condo board in 2018, released a statement on Monday to insist he did warn the condo board of cracks in the building but that nothing was done

Frank Morabito, the engineer who was hired by the condo board in 2018, released a statement on Monday to insist he did warn the condo board of cracks in the building but that nothing was done

MODEL SAW SINKHOLE FORM NEXT TO POOL SECONDS BEFORE COLLAPSE 

Model Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton said in a phone call with her husband Mike Stratton that she had seen a sinkhole where their pool used to be before before the line cut out. 

‘It was 1.30am, I’ll never, never forget that,’ Mr Stratton, a 66-year-old Democratic political strategist, told The Miami Herald

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

Model Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton said in a phone call with her husband Mike Stratton that she had seen a sinkhole where their pool used to be before before the line cut out

Billedeau-Stratton, 40, had felt sudden shaking from her fourth-floor balcony and called her husband screaming before saying that there was a sinkhole, reports the newspaper. 

Mr Stratton, who was in Denver at the time of the call, told the Washington Post that she screamed that she had seen the pool deck cave in and ‘then the phone went dead.’

‘She screamed bloody murder and that was it,’ Mr Stratton told Billedeau-Stratton’s older sister Ashley Dean. 

Ms Dean told the Washington Post that her sister ‘knew something was wrong’ in the days before the collapse as she had complained to her family about water damage in the building and heavy equipment being lifted to the roof for repairs.

She said it is hard to hold out hope for her sister to come back to her.   

‘I want to have hope,’ she said, ‘but I’m a realist. I don’t want to hold on to false dreams.’

Billedeau-Stratton is among the 151 people who are missing after the 12-story condominium building in suburban Miami collapsed early Thursday morning. Ten deaths have been confirmed so far. 

A structural engineer who inspected the Champlain Towers last year told CNN that the hole witnessed by Billedeau-Stratton ‘definitely’ could have been a factor in the sudden collapse. 

Jason Borden said that if the pool deck or a structural slab near the building failed or had been compromised, ‘it could have contributed to the end result’.   

‘That can set off a chain reaction of failures which then leads to beams, slabs and other things, and you have a domino effect of collapse. 

‘The idea behind is that it failed in the middle from the columns up – that is what that video is showing. 

It’s indicative of potentially the columns towards the middle being structurally compromised and potentially, underground the piles and the way in which they are embedded into the bedrock might have been compromised. 

‘There was a structural failure… I’m not so keen to commit to why, when, where and how it failed but this is certainly something worth considering. The video is compelling,’ Gregg Schlesinger, a general contractor and construction lawyer, told DailyMail.com on Monday.    

‘We’ve seen a 2018 report that says it had rusted out. That is typically the effect of salt air and erosion. 

‘If a building isn’t maintained over this time period and is allowed to get to the point where you have spalling, what should have been done in 2018 is at least an additional exploration demo work, you demo a small area, the single column that’s in the picture to reveal the level. 

‘It wasn’t done. 

‘If proper maintenance occurred it would never have gotten to this point.

‘They put it off and they were getting ready to do it 3 years later… it’s unacceptable,’ he added. 

Seconds before the building collapsed, model Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton woke up to the building shaking. 

She called her husband and told him she could see what looked like a sinkhole forming next to the pool. 

Moments later, the line went dead. 

Her husband has since said he’ll ‘never forget’ that she called at exactly 1.30am. He was out of town.  

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said on Monday morning that the cause of the collapse was secondary to the rescue mission. 

‘There’s been some discussion about why this happened, that’s an issue for another day. 

Right now we have to pull our family and friends out of that rubble.’

‘He will get to the bottom of it,’ he said.  

‘We continue to work the pile, we have over 80 rescuers at a time that are beaching the walls in a frantic effort to rescue those that are still viable and to get to those voids that we know exist in these buildings.’

The mayor continued: ‘We have found voids within the building that we’ve been able to penetrate – mostly coming from underneath on what used to be the garage. We have been able to tunnel through the building.

‘This is a frantic search to see that miracle, who we can bring out of that building alive. we are all holding out for that hope that we are going to be able to rescue somebody. The pile conditions are bad, obviously. 

‘During the day, we’ve got the sun and humidity… it rains. The conditions are not ideal but nonetheless we are working tirelessly to try to bring victims that are underneath that rubble, to rescue them.

‘We have the latest technology in terms of equipment- underground sonar systems to detect victims, we brought in huge cranes to help us lift big slabs of concrete that we didn’t have at the beginning, basically turning the big pieces of rock into smaller rocks to get them off the pile.

‘We’re doing big lifts, getting big pieces off of the pile and that’s going to aide us to laminate this building almost like an onion so we can get inside and again find those voids that we know might possibly be there and rescue those people,’ he said.   

Maggie Castro, a paramedic with the Miami-Dade county fire department, said: ‘I know the families ask why we are not going faster.’

Castro, a 52-year-old rescue specialist who has been with the department for 17 years, said that in a strange way it is hope itself, even now, that is slowing them down.

‘We have the potential for having void spaces, these pockets that can potentially be in the rubble where we can find live victims,’ she told AFP.

‘If we just jump on these piles and attack, we will collapse these spaces.It seems slow but it’s as fast as we can go. Heavy machinery cut large pieces and remove the ones that are safe to be removed.  

‘When we come to an area where there would potentially be a void space, we work by hand, remove debris bucket by bucket until we get to the area we want to.’ With listening devices and sniffer dogs they strain for any sound that could lead them to life.

‘We hear falling debris, twisting metal,’ Castro said. We have not heard human sounds.’

One of the main people who was allegedly involved in the construction of the building in 1981 was developer Nathan Reiber, who faced legal troubles in the 1970s in Canada, before turning his attention to south Florida.

According to a Washington Post report, Reiber and his partners couldn’t start construction of the now-collapsed tower because of 1979 moratorium, which was put in place because of faulty sewers in the area.

But they skirted around the moratorium and got their project approved by agreeing to pay half of the $400,000 tab for sewer repairs on the property. 

This angered other developers whose projects were stalled by the moratorium and led to accusations that Reiber and his team received preferential treatment, the Washington Post report reported.

Reiber, who died of cancer in 2014, demanded that the campaign donations be returned when allegations of their pay-to-play scheme surfaced.

Reiber’s widow and two of his children did not return calls to the Washington Post. 

In light of the tragedy, the City of Miami sent letters to condo associations of 40-plus-year-old buildings above six stories, urging them to get an inspection from a qualified structural engineer. The City of Miami said that the reports must be carried out within the next 45 days and sent back a status report on the conditions.

THE MIAMI CONDO COLLAPSE VICTIMS IDENTIFIED SO FAR

54-year-old Stacie Fang

54-year-old Stacie Fang

STACIE DAWN FANG

Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, was with her son Jonah Handler, a teenager, when the building collapsed. They lived on the tenth floor. The boy’s small hand waved through the wreckage as a man out walking his dog hurried to the site, climbed through a pile of glass and rebar and promised to get help right away.

Rescuers helped the boy out from under a pile of cement and carried him away on a stretcher to a hospital.

‘There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie,’ members of her family said in a statement. ‘Many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time.’

Asked about the boy’s condition, a family friend, Lisa Mozloom told the AP ‘He will be fine. He’s a miracle.’

MANUEL LAFONT

Manuel LaFont, 54

Manuel LaFont, 54

Manuel LaFont, 54, was a proud father, a baseball fan and a business consultant who lived on the building’s eighth floor. 

He had a 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter with his ex-wife Adriana LaFont, the Miami Herald reported.

Adriana asked her friends on Facebook to pray the rosary for Manny before his body was found. ‘So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart,’ she wrote.

LaFont, a Houston native, coached his son’s baseball team, the Astros, at North Shore Park, just a mile away from the Champlain. He was a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach. The parish’s school parents gathered Saturday afternoon to pray for LaFont and his neighbors who were still missing.

An alumnus of Sharpstown High School in Houston, LaFont had worked across Latin America and the Caribbean for a manufacturing firm, leading a division focusing on roadway safety that built crash cushions and moveable barriers, the Herald reported.

‘I got into this industry specifically because I don’t want to sell widgets. I want to help people. I want to do something good in this world,’ he said at an industry conference in 2016. ‘When I die, I want to say that my life meant something.’

ANTONIO AND GLADYS LOZANO

Antonio and Gladys Lozano

Antonio and Gladys Lozano

Antonio and Gladys Lozano lived on the ninth floor. The two had known each other over 60 years and would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary on July 21.

Their sons told WPLG-TV that the couple had joked neither wanted to die before the other, because neither wanted to live without the other. Their one solace, the brothers said, was that they were together when they died.

Authorities confirmed on Saturday that Antonio, 83, and Gladys, 79, were among the dead.

Sergio Lozano said he had dinner with his parents hours before the collapse. He lived in one of the towers of the complex and could see his parents’ apartment across the way from his. That night, he said the heard a loud noise they thought could be a storm.

‘The building is not there,’ he said he told his wife. ‘My parents’ apartment is not there. It’s gone.’

ANA ORTIZ, HER HUSBAND FRANK AND HER SON LUIZ 

Ana Ortiz, left, and her son Luis Bermudez

Ana Ortiz, left, and her son Luis Bermudez and Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina (right) 

Luis Bermudez, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had battled with muscular dystrophy for years and used a wheelchair. The 26-year-old man lived with his mother Ana Ortiz on the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South.  

His father, also named Luis Bermudez, texted the AP saying ‘my son is a hero.’ He also wrote on Facebook that he could not believe he’s gone.

‘Now rest in peace and without any obstacles in heaven,’ he wrote. ‘I will see you soon my Luiyo.’

Ortiz, 46, had just gotten married with Frankie Kleiman. Alex Garcia, the couple’s close friend, told The Miami Herald he had set them up on a blind date. Kleiman lived with his wife and stepson on the same floor as his brother Jay Kleiman, who was in town for a funeral, and their mother Nancy Kress Levin. The Kleimans and their mother are still missing.

50-year-old Frank Kleiman, left, was found on Monday. He was Ana's husband

50-year-old Frank Kleiman, left, was found on Monday. He was Ana’s husband

Ortiz was described as a woman who was committed to giving her son the best possible life.

‘She´s a rock star. And gorgeous,” Garcia told the Herald. “And on top of that a super mom.

FRANK KLEIMAN 

Kleiman, 50, was the husband of Ana Ortiz, whose body was found alongside that of her disabled son, Luiz, over the weekend. 

LEON AND CHRISTINA OLIWKOWICZ

Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina were also identified as victims of the tower collapse on Sunday evening

Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina were also identified as victims of the tower collapse on Sunday evening 

The couple lived on the 8th floor of the condo tower for several years, according to Venezuelan journalist Shirley Varnagy, a close friend of their family.

They were among six Venezuelan natives caught in the building’s collapse. Still missing Monday were Moisés Rodán, 28; Andrés Levine, 27; Luis Sadovnik, 28, and his wife, Nicole Langesfeld, Varnagy said.

Varnagy said the Oliwkowicz’s daughter had been outside the building waiting for some information about their fate. Her husband answered their phone and asked to be left alone.

The couple’s daughter, Mrs. Leah Fouhal, works as a secretary at a Jewish school in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the couple donated a Torah in 2019 in a procession that included a vintage fire truck, music and a giant velvet and gold crown, according to COLlive.com, an Orthodox Jewish news outlet that covers Chabad-Lubavitch communities around the world.

Meanwhile, the parents of Rodán, Levine and Sadovnik live in Venezuela and traveled to the U.S. Friday. ‘Some did not have a visa, others had an expired passport, but with diplomatic collaboration they were able to arrive,’ Varnagy said. 

MARCOS JOSEPH GUARA & MICHAEL DAVID ALTMAN

The body of 52-year-old Marcus Joseph Guara was recovered on Saturday

Michael David Altman, 50,

The body of 52-year-old Marcus Joseph Guara was recovered on Saturday



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