The official death toll for the Miami condo collapse rose to nine on Sunday after emergency workers found four more bodies – as rescuers dug a trench through the rubble in a bid to find survivors.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference Sunday afternoon that more bodies had been pulled from the wreckage, while one person died in hospital.
She said: “As of today, one victim passed away in the hospital, and we’ve recovered eight more victims on-site, so I am confirming today that the death toll is at nine. My deepest condolences to the friends, the families, the communities of those who lost their lives.”
Officials have not yet released the names of five of the victims to the public.
“We are making every effort to identify those others who have been recovered, and additionally, contacting their family members as soon as we are able,” Cava said.
Four people who lost their lives in Thursday’s tragedy at Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami Beach, have been named and pictured, while a further 150 are still unaccounted for.
It came as Newsmax’s Miami correspondent Leonardo Feldman cited officials as saying that the remains of a further nine people had been recovered, which would bring the death toll up to 14.
Teams of Israeli search-and-rescue specialists are now involved in the hunt for survivors. They join teams in protective gear, backed by two huge cranes and aided by sniffer dogs, who have been working nonstop in torrid heat and high humidity since the early-morning collapse.
The victims who have been identified so far are Antonio Lozano, 83, his wife Gladys Lozano, 79; Manny Lafont, 54; and Stacie Fang, 54.
Antonio Lozano, 83 and Gladys Lozano, 79 were identified through rapid DNA testing that was a match with their son Sergio Lozano
Antonio and Gladys Lozano were identified through rapid DNA testing that was a match with their son Sergio Lozano (right)
Authorities confirmed Houston native Manuel LaFont, 54, who resided in an eighth floor apartment, died in the collapse, his body was recovered on Friday.
Authorities had already identified 54-year-old Stacie Fang, as one of the deceased, on Friday
Pictures of Fang and her son hugging and enjoying a day at the beach were revealed by news station WPLG 10
Teams of Israeli search-and-rescue specialists joined the hunt for further bodies Sunday, joining teams in protective gear, backed by two huge cranes and aided by sniffer dogs, who have been working nonstop in torrid heat and high humidity since the early-morning collapse (picture taken Sunday)
A photo of the block taken Sunday, showing residents’ belongings amid the debris as rescuers continue their hunt for bodies
Antonio and Gladys Lozano were identified through rapid DNA testing that was a match with their son Sergio Lozano, NBC Miami confirmed.
Antonio’s body was recovered on Thursday while his wife’s was recovered on Friday.
The pair both resided on a ninth floor apartment of the 12-floor building.
‘This was a message of hope’: Relatives of 92-year-old grandmother find old family photos in the rubble of her apartment
When Mike Noriega heard that part of the condominium tower where his grandmother lived had collapsed, he rushed with his father to the scene. They arrived at a nightmarish 30-foot pile of pancaked concrete and mangled metal, the remains of her 12-story building – and no sign of 92-year-old Hilda Noriega.
But among the flying debris, they stumbled across mementos that bore witness to Hilda’s life on the sixth floor in Champlain Towers South: an old picture of her with her late husband and their infant son, and a birthday card that friends from her prayer group sent two weeks earlier with the acronym ‘ESM,’ Spanish for ‘hand-delivered,’ scrawled across the yellow envelope with a butterfly etching.
‘There was a message in the mess of all this,’ Noriega said. ‘It means not to give up hope. To have faith.’
Days after Thursday’s collapse, Hilda remains among more than 150 people unaccounted for in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, with five confirmed dead and authorities and loved ones fearing the toll will go much higher.
As scores of rescuers continue to use heavy machinery and power tools to clear the rubble from the top and tunnel in from below, the Noriega family still has hope she will be found alive.
‘Some miracles are very big, others are small,’ said Mike, 36, who last spoke to Hilda the day before the disaster.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on Sunday morning assured families that rescuers were working nonstop. ‘Nothing else on our mind, with the only objective of pulling their family members out of that rubble,’ he told ABC’s ‘This Week.’
‘We’re not going to stop doing that – not today, not tomorrow, not the next day. We’re going to keep going until everybody’s out.’
The Noriega family described Hilda as a fiercely independent and vivacious retiree – in Mike’s words, ‘the youngest 92-year-old I know … 92 going on 62.’
Hilda Noriega had called Champlain Towers South home for more than 20 years. But six years removed from her husband’s death, she was ready to leave. The condo was up for sale, and her plan was to move in with family.
She had loved living near the ocean and friends, but ‘when you lose a spouse, you want to be surrounded by family … and she wanted to spend more time with her family and grandchildren,’ said Sally Noriega, Hilda’s daughter-in-law.
Sally called Hilda a sweet, loving 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,’ Sally said.
Carlos Noriega, Hilda’s son and police chief of nearby North Bay Village, was one of the emergency responders clambering atop the pile.
The Noriegas don’t entirely know what to make of the treasured mementos found amid the chaos, but Sally said: ‘We are a family of faith. We’ll just leave it at that.’
They are among dozens of anguished families awaiting word on the fate of loved ones. The wait has been agonizing.
The atmosphere inside a hotel ballroom where around 200 family members were being briefed by authorities Saturday was tense, two people present told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversations.
The two said families frustrated with the slow pace of recovery efforts had demanded they be allowed to go to the scene and attempt a collective shout – an attempt as much to find survivors as a cathartic farewell to those who had died.
The confirmed death toll rose to five Saturday as rescuers battled fire and smoke deep inside the heap in a race against time. With a sulfur-like stench hanging in the air, they used everything from trained dogs and sonar equipment to buckets and drones.
Their son Sergio said that his parents had talked in the past about being scared to die without each other, NBC Miami reported.
He told Local10.com that he had dinner with his parents just hours before the collapse.
Lozano lives just across from his parents in another tower of the Champlain condo complex where his parents’ apartment was in clear view.
He said he was in bed when he and his wife heard the loud noises from the collapse, which he thought was from a windstorm or a tornado, he told Local10 news.
Lozano walked to his balcony to move furniture when he saw the wreckage and turned to his wife and told her: ‘It’s not there” And she’s yelling, ‘What do you mean?’ ”My parents’ apartment is not there, it’s gone!,” and I just ran downstairs,’ he said tearfully.
‘He called me up and said mom and dad are gone, I said what do you mean? he said the building isn’t there,’ the couples other son Antonio Lozano told CBS 4. ‘A building falls down in a third world country where they don’t have building codes and stuff, a building shouldn’t collapse like that.’
The Cuban couple was set to celebrate their 59th anniversary on July 21 and had known each other for more than 60 years, Lorenzo said.
He told Local10 prior to the confirmation of their deaths that if they were confirmed dead he is taking solace in the fact that they ‘went together and went quickly.’
Authorities also confirmed Houston native Manuel LaFont, 54, who resided in an eighth floor apartment, died in the collapse. His body was recovered on Friday.
Lafont was a Sharpstown High School graduate and is believed to have been with another Houston native, who is believed to be missing, in his eighth floor apartment at the time of the collapse, family told ABC13.com
Lafont was described as a proud father to his 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter he shared with his ex-wife Adriana.
The business consultant was a huge baseball fan and coached his son’s baseball team, the Astros, at North Shore Park, just a mile away from the doomed condo, the Miami Herald reported.
The father of two was also a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach.
The parish’s school parents gathered on Saturday to pray for LaFont and his neighbors who were still missing, the Herald reported.
For three years LaFont worked across Latin American and the Caribbean for a manufacturing firm and led a division that focused on roadway safety that built crash cushions and moveable barriers.
In a 2016 interview at an industry conference he explained why he got into this line of work.
‘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. ‘When I die, I want to say that my life meant something.’
Adriana Lafont, told ABC13 on Saturday morning that she initially didn’t worry when she heard about the building collapse from a relative but when she drove to the condo and saw the scene, the seriousness of the situation dawned on her.
‘It looks like a war zone or something like that,’ she told a relative over the phone in a panic.
Adriana described Lafont as a doting father to their two children and said they had just spent Father’s Day together last Sunday.
Adriana told Winknews.com their kids would see Lafont for the last time when they visited him at the condo just three hours before the towers fell.
She said the condo was a place where the family made many memories together.
‘I lived in that building for 10 years,’ she told ABC 13. ‘My kids were born there. They learned how to swim in that pool. We had birthday parties, first communions, baptisms, so many memories.’
Adriana also posted a touching tribute to her ex on Facebook on Saturday, hours before he was confirmed dead.
At the time she was still holding out hope her children would see him again.
‘My Manny, who was my companion for so many years, the father of my children, the one who would chide me but love me at the same time ”Adriana be on time!! Adriana don’t change the plans!! Adriana, Adriana…”’ she posted in Spanish.
‘I’m asking everyone for a prayer for Manny, keep the hope alive, my children will be clinging to the miracle of life,’ she wrote. ‘Manny, daddy, we want to hug you once again to tell you how much we love you!’
Manny Lafont pictured in his apartment. His former wife said the condo was a place where the family made many memories together
‘I’m asking everyone for a prayer for Manny, keep the hope alive, my children will be clinging to the miracle of life,’ she wrote. ‘Manny, daddy, we want to hug you once again to tell you how much we love you!’ Manny Lafont’s former wife Adrian posted
Manny Lafont would see his two children for the last time when they visited him at the condo just three hours before the towers fell, his ex-wife said
Her family released a statement paying tribute to her on Friday afternoon saying: ‘There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie’
A mother with her son, a father of two and a couple about to mark their 59th wedding anniversary: Victims of the tragedy
Authorities have identified four of the five people whose bodies were found after the terrifying collapse of a 12-story beachfront condominium in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach. More than 150 others are missing as rescuers painstakingly search through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South. The Associated Press has been reporting brief descriptions of the victims.
The Miami-Dade Police Department said the dead include Stacie Dawn Fang, Manuel LaFont and Antonio and Gladys Lozano.
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, 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 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.’
Authorities had already identified 54-year-old Stacie Fang, as one of the deceased, on Friday.
Fang’s body was recovered on Thursday and she was the first victim publicly identified.
Fang, a New York native, was pulled from the debris and rushed to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, but died of her injuries soon after.
Fang’s 15-year-old son Jonah Handler survived the tragedy after being trapped under the frame of his bed.
He was dramatically rescued from the rubble with the help of a passing dog walker and as he was pulled from the rubble he begged rescuers ‘please don’t leave me,’ the New York Times report
Fang’s family released a statement paying tribute to her on Friday afternoon.
‘There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie. The members of the Fang and Handler family would like to express our deepest appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy, compassion and support we have received,’ the statement said.
‘The many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time. On behalf of Stacie’s son, Jonah, we ask you now to please respect our privacy to grieve and to try to help each other heal.’
Pictures of Fang and her son hugging and enjoying a day at the beach were revealed by news station WPLG 10.
After three days of search efforts officials said on Saturday evening that rescue workers have discovered a body and human remains, raising the confirmed death toll to five people.
Officials have asked family members to submit DNA samples to help identify the human remains that they find. There are live DNA testing facilities on site to process identities.
Meanwhile, as search efforts continued a video posted online shows a woman, who was not identified, making an emotional plea to DeSantis to do more at a meeting between officials and relatives at a ‘family reunification center’ set up at a hotel close to the scene of the tragedy.
The woman slammed the current rescue mission saying it is ‘not enough’ and questioned how ‘nobody has emerged dead or alive’ from the wreckage of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Miami Beach, more than 60 hours after the collapse.
She accused the Florida governor of keeping up appearances saying he is ‘going to take a nice picture’ while breaking ‘promises’ about the ongoing efforts to find those still unaccounted for.
‘It’s impossible that in four days nobody has emerged dead or alive,’ she said during the tense meeting between officials and families desperately waiting for any news about their loved ones.
‘It’s not enough. Imagine if your children were in there. You’re going to leave here and you’re going to take a nice picture, and I know you’re doing everything you can but it’s not enough.’
Officials were able to pull two additional bodies from the rubble two days after the bodies of three victims were pulled from the wreckage overnight Thursday.
Police have identified the families of three of the victims and are not releasing the names of the deceased at this time.
On Saturday, officials said that rescue efforts were stalled by a fire in the rubble that was spreading and releasing smoke, but that first responders were continuing their search for survivors.
While the search continues, questions also continue to mount over the cause of the collapse and whether it could have been avoided.
A building official has said he was on the roof of the condo tower just 14 hours before it collapsed and saw ‘no inordinate amount of equipment or materials’ that would cause the fall, amid speculation that recent roof repairs may have been a contributing factor.
However, the 12-story condo tower had been flagged for ‘major structural damage’ to the pool deck area and underground parking garage in a damning report almost three years before it collapsed, it has been revealed.
Before and after satellite images of the block, which collapsed on Thursday in an incident that shocked the country
Nearly three years before the oceanfront building – pictured Sunday – collapsed, an engineering firm estimated that major repairs the building needed would cost more than $9 million, according to newly released emails
Emergency services at the site of the collapsed condo on Sunday as efforts continued to recover bodies
As on Sunday, 150 people remained unaccounted for. Officials said they would tell families as soon as they had information about their loved ones
Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo Saturday morning as hopes fade of finding people alive
Emergency crews search the debris for signs of life Saturday. No survivors or victims have been found from the collapse site in close to two days, since the bodies of three victims were pulled from the wreckage overnight Thursda
The mother of a woman missing in the Miami condo tower has blasted Governor Ron DeSantis and the rescue efforts for not moving fast enough
The woman accused the Florida governor of keeping up appearances saying he is ‘going to take a nice picture’ while breaking ‘promises’ about the ongoing efforts to find those still unaccounted for. Governor DeSantis deflected the issue onto the rescue crews on the ground: ‘It’s an operational decision’
It comes as:
- The search and rescue mission has been hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble
- Firefighters cannot locate the source of the fire and were forced to temporarily stop the search to build a trench in the rubble, from which they could safely search from
- Miami-Dade Mayor Cava announced she was introducing an audit of all buildings aged 40 or over in the county to be completed within the next 30 days
- Surfside Mayor called for the evacuation of residents living in the block’s sister building one block away
- An alarming 2018 report shows a consultant engineer warned about ‘structural damage’ to pool area and underground parking garage three years before the collapse
- 150 people are still unaccounted for including the first cousin of the former president of Chile and the president of Paraguay’s sister-in-law
- Five people are confirmed dead with the first victim identified as Stacie Fang, the mom of a boy, 15, rescued from the rubble Thursday
- Sources told DailyMail.com many people in the building were tourists from Latin America renting apartments while they traveled to the US to get COVID-19 vaccines
With hope fading for the 150 people still unaccounted for, footage of the emotional meeting with the families of those missing showed the desperate mother begging with officials to get rid of ‘red tape’ to speed up the search as she said her daughter was in ‘perfect health’ so could still be alive beneath the debris.
‘My daughter is 26 years old, in perfect health,’ she said as her voice cracked.
‘She could make it out of there… days have gone by.’
She added: ‘It’s not enough. I’m not an engineer, I’m not a fire marshal, I don’t know the way to do this.
‘I’m a mother, I don’t know the best way to go about this… but it’s not enough.’
The woman claimed that fire and rescue teams from Israel were being stopped from assisting in the mission by the state and local officials.
‘Governor, fire chief, mayor I was promised yesterday and everybody else was promised that the Israelis would be allowed in and that they are here,’ she said.
‘I have since been informed they are not here and they are not working. You promised us… Time has gone by and promises are not being kept.’
The mother directed her comments at DeSantis saying the matter was under his control.
‘Governor, it’s in your control as I understand. You promised us and they are not here,’ she said.
‘I want an answer, not a Band-Aid, not a Tylenol, not someone to massage my pain.’
Confrontation begins at 3:30 in below video
DeSantis remained silent for much of the exchange leaving Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah to respond to the concerns.
Jadallah explained that US rescue teams are just as qualified as Israeli teams and that it is not a matter of resource – but the precarious nature of the collapse site, meaning only a certain number of people can be on the debris at any given time.
‘We are just as qualified as the Israel teams. We have an additional thousand just as qualified.
‘It doesn’t matter if they’re from Switzerland, from America, from Israel. I assure you we’re all certified the same way and we all want to get the individuals that are under the debris out.
‘But I can assure you that the number of personnel who can physically fit on this pile can only be a specific number.
‘We can’t put a thousand people on this pile.’
The woman directed her questions at DeSantis again.
‘You gave us a promise and you’re not fulfiling it,’ she said. ‘Red tape is not important when my daughter is dying.’
When the governor finally piped up, he deflected the issue back onto the operational crews on the ground who are working round the clock to try to find survivors.
‘The state is not preventing that at all. They’re welcome to come. It’s an operational decision,’ he said.
‘If the Israeli team, if they can use that, they have 100 percent support from the state to do so.’
Construction equipment is used to remove rubble at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, Saturday
Rescue teams are seen on the scene of the condo tower Saturday around the pool deck area which an expert warned was in need of repairs
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also added that ‘if they come we will deploy them.’
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has sent members of the Israel Defense Force’s Home Front Command search-and-rescue team to Florida to help in the search for survivors.
Rivlin tweeted on Friday that he was praying for the victims of the tragedy.
‘We hope for the recovery of the survivors and send heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family members,’ Rivlin wrote on Twitter.
Officials said Saturday the search and rescue mission has been increasingly hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble, sending thick smoke into the air.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tweeted on Friday that he was praying for the victims of the tragedy
Firefighters have been unable to locate the source of the fire and have taken to digging a trench in the rubble away from the flames that rescue teams can safely search for victims and survivors around.
With questions mounting over the cause of the disaster, Surfside building official Jim McGuinness revealed Friday in an emergency town meeting he had inspected the roof just 14 hours before the building crumbled.
McGuinness was inspecting work of replacing roof anchors, which are where window cleaners attach their equipment, reported the Palm Beach Post.
He insisted 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.
Officials released an October 2018 report overnight Friday on the Surfside, Florida town website which revealed a consultant engineer warned back then that the Champlain Towers South building was in need of numerous repairs around the base of the structure ‘in a timely fashion.’
The structural field survey report specifically raised concerns about the pool deck area, in which the waterproofing was failing, and the underground parking garage which was riddled with ‘abundant’ cracking.
Despite the apparent urgency of some of the recommendations, an attorney for the resident-led condo association told the New York Times this week that repairs were only about to begin – more than two and a half years after the inspection.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has vowed to ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ while local officials called for the evacuation of residents living in the block’s sister building.
An alarming report released by officials overnight Friday reveals an engineer warned about structural issues on the condo tower three years before it collapsed
The 12-story Miami condo had been flagged for ‘major structural damage’ to the pool deck area and underground parking garage in a damning report almost three years before it collapsed early Thursday, killing at least five
Crews on Saturday continue to search for survivors marking the third day rescue teams have worked round the clock
Engineer warned of ‘major structural damage’ to pool deck area and underground parking garage in damning report three years before collapsed
Consultant Frank Morabito carried out the inspection to assess the overall condition of the building and recommend any structural issues in need of repair, as the building neared its 40-year standing and in turn its need for recertification under local regulation.
In the report, he warned that the ‘main issue’ was the pool deck and entrance drive area, where condo residents would enjoy the Miami sunshine by the pool.
Morabito wrote that the waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive was failing’ and ‘beyond its useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced.’
The report warned that the failed waterproofing was ‘causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.’
‘Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,’ it read.
Morabito wrote that there had been a ‘major error’ in the original design of that area because the waterproofing was laid on a concrete slab that was flat, rather than sloped to allow water to run off.
The report recommended a list of repairs to the area including repairs to the concrete structure, ‘installing a new waterproofing membrane, protection board and drain panels on the new sloped surface’ among other changes.
A consultant engineer warned back in October 2018 that the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Miami Beach, was in need of numerous repairs around the base of the structure ‘in a timely fashion’. The pool deck area and garage seen above was the ‘main issue’ named in the report
The parking garage, some of which lay beneath the pool area, had ‘abundant cracking and spalling’, the report found (see pictures contained in the report above)
The report also found previous repairs to the garage were ‘failing’ (pictures from the report above). The underground parking garage was partly beneath the pool area, where the report found waterproofing was failing
These changes would provide ‘extra protection for the existing reinforced concrete structure and allows future membrane repair/replacement to be completed more economically.’
In the underground parking garage, which sits partly beneath the pool deck, the report warned of ‘signs of distress and fatigue’ and ‘abundant cracking and spalling.
‘Abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams, and walls,’ Morabito wrote.
‘Several sizeable spalls were noted in both the topside of the entrance drive ramp and underside of the pool/ entrance drive/ planter slabs, which included instances with exposed, deteriorating rebar.
Spalling refers to areas of concrete cracking or crumbling.
The report also found that ‘many of the previous garage concrete repairs’ were ‘failing’ and ‘ineffective.’
Under the area beneath the pool deck in particular, the report noted that ‘new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks.’
Morabito recommended that the entrance and pool deck area concrete slabs showing distress ‘be removed and replaced in their entirety.’
While the engineer wrote that ‘some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.
The report also lists a series of other issues including cracks in the concrete on balconies, water seeping through windows and balcony doors into the condos and ‘minor cracking’ in the roof.
The report does not warn that the building was at risk of collapse but states that the repairs would help in ‘maintaining the structural integrity’ of the building.
Photos of the damaged areas were included in the report. This week, the same areas of the building were seen looking unrecognizable, as rescue crews combed through the rubble looking for survivors.
Firefighters were seen wading through deep water in the parking garage during the search – in the area where several repairs were recommended almost three years earlier.
Condo association attorney Kenneth Direktor told the Times the repairs ‘were just about to get started’ when the building collapsed.
A permit for repairs to the roof was issued by the town just hours before the tragedy at around 1:30am Thursday.
Surfside issued the permit to ‘install roof safety anchors and provide stucco repairs’ and replace the existing roof on Wednesday.
Two other permits were also issued for electrical repair and roof repair on the building last month. It is not clear whether any of the repairs were yet underway.
Several other issues including cracking was detailed in the report. Despite the apparent urgency of some of the recommendations, repairs were only about to begin – more than two and a half years after the inspection
Mayor calls for audit on all buildings over 40 years old – as residents of sister building are urged to evacuate
When asked about the report in Saturday’s press conference, Mayor Cava said officials were ‘interested in all the evidence that comes to light’ and said she had not been aware of the report.
She said the priority was on making sure ‘other buildings are safe’ in the area and announced she was ordering a county audit of all buildings 40 years old or older to be completed within the next 30 days.
The audit will ensure that every building has completed its recertification process and remediated any issues, she said.
Cava said she did not have numbers on how many buildings in the county would fall under the audit but said she knew of ‘one other building by this developer up the street’ – the sister building one block away.
She urged cities in the area to join her in carrying out such an audit.
Cava told CNN ‘are going to get to the bottom of what happened at this particular building’.
‘Clearly, our buildings need to be structurally sound. We need to have regular reviews, and to the extent that we need to change laws, we will change laws, and we will make sure these things do not happen in the future,’ she said.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the search and rescue mission has been increasingly hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined Saturday’s press conference where officials confirmed no further victims or survivors had been found in the rubble
The side of the partially collapsed building is seen exposed Saturday as the search enters its third day in Surfside
Workers continue to comb the rubble as officials insist it remains a rescue mission despite 24 hours passing since the last person was found
Officials on Saturday said rescue teams had faced extremely challenging circumstances as they battled fires beneath rubble
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said it’s still ‘unclear what steps the building was taking to address those cracks’ warned about in the report.
He told the network he was yet to read the report but was going to get a copy that morning so he could ‘give out accurate information regarding that.’
‘I understand from our building official, that it was in the form of the 2018 email that came from an engineer regarding those cracks,’ he said, adding it’s ‘unclear right now exactly what was going on in that building.’
The condo tower was due to have its safety recertified for the first time in 40 years this year and had recently undergone construction work on its roof.
It also emerged this week that a scientist had warned in a 2020 report that the development was sinking due to its position on reclaimed marshlands.
A team of federal experts was drafted in Friday to help state and local officials determine the cause of the collapse and Surfside Town Manager Andy Hyatt said the town had ‘engaged a structural engineer to inspect other buildings in Surfside.’
But while officials are urging the public not to jump to conclusions, Surfside Mayor Burkett is urging residents of the sister building Champlain Towers North to evacuate out of ‘an abundance of caution’ as he admitted he ‘can’t tell them it is safe.’
The North tower is located around a block away from the South tower. It also has 12 stories, was built in 1981 by the same developers.
‘I don’t think people need to live with the possibility, or the thought that their building may collapse’, he told CNN.
‘It had the same developer, it probably had the same materials, they probably had the same plans, and people are asking me is the building safe, and I can’t tell them it is safe.’
Burkett on Friday told WSVN he would be recommending people leave the building.
Firefighters were seen wading through water in the parking garage remains on Thursday as they hunted for survivors
The alarming report was released by officials overnight Friday on the Surfside, Florida town website as questions continue to swirl over what caused the 1980s condo tower to suddenly collapse and whether the tragedy could have been avoided
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava vowed to ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ while local officials called for the evacuation of residents living in the block’s sister building
Rescue workers are hampered by fire underneath the rubble
While questions are mounting over the cause of the collapse, the search entered its third day Saturday, with hopes of finding more people alive fading by the hour.
No more survivors or victims have been found in more than 24 hours – since overnight Thursday – and rescue teams are now battling with a deep fire beneath the rubble.
Mayor Cava gave the grave update Saturday morning: ‘The numbers are the same as they were yesterday.’
‘We’re facing incredible difficulties with this fire,’ she said.
‘The fire has been going on. It’s a very deep fire and it is incredibly difficult to locate the source of the fire.’
Cava said the ‘brave’ fire and rescue teams have been ‘working round the clock’ in the hunt for survivors and victims but the fire has been ‘hampering’ efforts.
Rescue crews are using infrared technology, foam, water and other tactics to try to reduce the fire and the smoke but, the mayor said, ‘it’s very difficult to isolate the source of the fire and therefore stop it.’
Teams had to stop the search at one point to build a trench in the rubble from which they can safely search for survivors and victims from.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Saturday morning that raging fires beneath the surface of the rubble have hampered the search for survivors and victims, leaving rescue teams grappling with ‘very challenging circumstances.’
‘The fire department has been fighting these fires all night,’ he said.
The fires are ‘smoldering’ and the smoke in the air is now ‘very thick’ which has ‘obviously created quite an obstacle’ to carrying out the search, he said.
Rescue teams work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo tower building Friday but find no survivors
The view of the tower as seen from the beach. The tower partially collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning
While questions are mounting over the cause of the collapse, the search entered its third day Saturday, with hopes of finding more people alive fading by the hour
Rescue workers no longer hearing sounds under the rubble as search continues
A rescue worker trying to find survivors in the rubble said Friday that the tapping sounds heard Thursday in the wreckage had ‘dissipated’.
Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue task force, told CNN that rescue crews heard ‘some tapping’ yesterday – or noise indicating that some of the victims may still be alive.
Rescue crews ‘did hear some tapping – there was some noise,’ he said.
But he said that the tapping had ‘dissipated’ by Friday. Still, he said, crews hadn’t given up hope.
‘We haven’t really heard anything in a while now, but that’s not to say that there’s still not people trapped that are alive,’ he told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. ‘As time’s running out they might be getting a little more sick or ill – not as vocal as before – but, like I said, we’re going to keep searching.’
Rescuers wouldn’t stop until ‘every stone is removed,’ he said.
‘I think these guys, you know, that’s their mindset also: They’re just going to keep going, keep going, keep going until, like I said, every stone is turned over and all the rubble is removed,’ Lieberman said.
He added: ‘We’re seeing stuffed animals, teddy bears, boxed of diapers, a child’s bunk bed, and we’re finding a lot of pictures, family pictures.’
‘It’s a little bit more emotional than going somewhere, where you know there’s no one, let’s say for a hurricane where they had enough warning and they had evacuation time and they got out.’
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said: ‘Any time that we hear a sound, we concentrate in that area,’
‘It could be just steel twisting, it could be debris raining down, but not specifically sounds of tapping or sounds of a human voice,’ Jadallah said.
Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon with a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue task force, told CNN that rescue crews heard ‘some tapping’ yesterday that has since dissipated
Firefighters spayed the rubble of the disaster on Friday where small fires and smoldering rubble still could be seen
Searchers climbed through the rubble in hopes of finding air pockets that would have allowed people to survive
The half of the building closest to the ocean collapsed into rubble around 130 am Thursday; rescuers have been searching frantically for survivors since
Zulema Perez prays in front of the memorial for victims of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors
A man hangs a photo on a fence of someone missing near the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed in Surfside
People hang up more signs of missing residents and light candles from the partial collapse in Surfside where the rescue personnel continue their search for victims nearly 48 hours after the collapse
Isabella Cisternino, Camila Giron-Otano and Isabela Giron-Otano, from left to right, light candles in the sand near where search and rescue operations continue at the site of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building
The first victim of the Miami condo tower disaster was identified Friday as the mother of a 15-year-old boy who survived the wreckage.
Stacie Fang, 54, died Thursday when the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami Beach, suddenly collapsed around 1:30am that morning.
She was the mother of a 15-year-old boy who was dramatically rescued from the rubble with the help of a passing dog walker.
Crews have started to use heavy equipment including cranes to look for survivors
Buffeted by gusty winds and pelted by intermittent rain, two heavy cranes removed debris from the pile using large claws Friday, creating a din of crashing glass and metal as they picked up material and dumped it to the side.
Once the machines paused, firefighters wearing protective masks and carrying red buckets climbed atop the pile to remove smaller pieces by hand in hope of finding spots where people might be trapped.
Some of the building remained smoldering – and firefighters used crane trucks to spray water on the crumbled structure where intermittent fires had popped up.
In a parking garage, rescuers in knee-deep water used power tools to cut into the building from below.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said crews were doing everything possible to save as many people as they could.
‘We do not have a resource problem, we have a luck problem,’ he said.
The search has not yet transitioned to recovery, though some family members waiting at a reunification center have given DNA samples in case they are needed to help identify victims, CNN reported.
Miami Dade Mayor Danielle Levine Cava told The New York Times that rescuers were using cameras, dogs and sonar equipment to look for survivors.
‘They are in the tunnels, they’re in the water, they’re on top of the rubble pile,’ she said. The pile’s instability made the work that much more delicate and dangerous.
She noted that the instability of the rubble pile made rescue efforts dangerous as crews ‘can’t dislodge pieces of debris that could injure them in the process.
‘They can’t dislodge debris that could possibly make it more difficult to continue the search,’ she had said earlier on Friday.
Experts have said that rescue efforts remain hopeful because people have been known to survive for weeks underneath rubble piles.
Police officers stand guard surrounded by smoke from a partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach
A man rides a bicycle surrounded by smoke from a partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach
A woman stands near a barricade tape near a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors
Dr. Mike Cirigliano, a doctor of internal medicine in Philadelphia, told WTXF-TV that people can survive in so-called ‘lean-tos’ where a pocket of space within the rubble allows them an oxygen supply.
He said that in some cases survivors can even last on a supply of water as rainwater can seep into lean-tos, according to the outlet.
A Haitian man survived two weeks underneath a crumbled building after the devastating 2010 earthquake, according to CNN.
At a news conference on Friday night, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said there are currently four task force teams working on search and rescue as teams from Mexico and Israel arrived on Friday morning to help with the efforts.
A rescue worker leads a rescue dog after looking for possible survivors among the debris of a partially collapsed building in Surfside
A dog of the search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside
Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building
Rescue crew respond at the site after a partial building collapse in Surfside near Miami Beach, Florida
Rescue workers look for possible survivors among the debris of a partially collapsed building in Surfside
He did not give an exact number for how many personnel from Mexico and Israel had been sent.
Cominsky said crews will be using heavy equipment such as cranes to help move debris on top of the sonar equipment, dogs and video cameras that they have already been using.
He said at the news conference that the main focus has been on sifting through debris underneath the parking garage.
‘Any glimpse of hopes that we have, any signals that we see that’s where want our primary focus. This is where we’ve been focused with the operation and looking for those voids,’ he said.
Rescue crews have also formed ‘bucket brigades’ to clear debris while using sonar devices to identify any signs of life, CBS News reported.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue posted a warning to residents on Friday night about ‘smoky conditions’ after the building collapse
Miami Dade Fire Rescue warned residents to stay indoors with windows closed as Miami Beach experiences ‘smoky conditions’ after the collapse
Each rescue team has a doctor like Lieberman to accompany them to aid any potential survivors and rescuers if they happen to be injured during their rescue efforts.
‘They remove a layer at a time. So basically, they are sort of delayering the pile. So they take off one layer at a time. We go in, we search, see if we can find anything. If not, they take off another layer,’ Lieberman told the outlet.
Hero mom saves daughter, 16, in condo collapse despite suffering a broken pelvis when they plunged four floors – but husband remains among the missing
A hero mom saved her 16-year-old daughter’s life by dragging them both from the rubble to safety, despite having suffered a broken pelvis in the Miami condo collapse.
Angela Gonzalez and daughter Devon plunged four stories from the ninth floor to the fifth floor when the 12-story Champlain Towers South Condo collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Angelo broke her pelvis in the fall but managed to pull herself and Devon from the rubble, reported CBS Local.
The mother and daughter are now recovering in Jackson Memorial Hospital.
However, Angela’s husband and Devon’s dad Edgar Gonzalez remains among the 159 people still missing, around 36 hours on from the disaster.
A family friend told CBS Local said they were hoping for the best that he would be found alive.
‘Hope for the best. Everybody just give prayers. Everybody else’s families or any colleagues or friends that were in the incidents, I wish you prayers, thoughts… And I hope everybody gets well,’ Lisa Melencial said from the hospital.
She added: ‘Pick up the pieces, trying to figure out how to make this work, how to make this better than what it is… Even though it’s a tragic scenario. I just want prayers and just the best for her and her family.’
Devon Gonzalez, 16, was pulled from the rubble by her mom
However, Dave Downey – a retired Miami-Dade fire chief – told CBS News that rescuers are ‘essentially looking for needles in a haystack.’
‘While this building came down relatively straight, they’re not — victims and survivors are not going to be located in the exact area where the building used to stand,’ he said.
Mayor Cava said at a news conference on Friday night that rescue efforts will continue through the night as 159 people still remain unaccounted for after the collapse.
‘We’re going to have more resources to pay for this expensive search and rescue and to give us access to more teams for the rescue later, for the clearance of the rubble and for the assistance for the families, as they put their lives back together,’ Cava said.
She added: ‘We’re here, we’ll continue, and please stand by us. Stand by us, as we stand by the families.’
Cava told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that she continues to have hope survivors will be rescued ‘because our first responders tell me they have hope.’
‘They are the ones on the ground. They are in the tunnels, they’re in the water, they’re on top of the rubble pile. They’re helping to sift through using the cameras, the dogs the sonar and they say they have hope,’ she said.
Rescuers hit a complication in efforts on Friday as they worked to extinguish a ‘deeply rooted fire’ under the structure, fire officials said.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue posted a warning to residents on Friday night about ‘smoky conditions’ after the building collapse.
‘If you live near the area of the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse, you may be experiencing smoky conditions, which can affect those with respiratory conditions. Please stay indoors, keep your windows and doors closed, and run your a/c by recirculating the air inside your home,’ the agency tweeted.
Patricia Mazzei, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted that ‘the smoke tonight was rough’ while Fox News reporter Lauren Blanchard described the air quality as ‘thick’ and said that it ‘burns.’
‘The wind continues to blow it in waves – sometimes it thins out where we are … but then it kicks back up,’ Blanchard tweeted.
According to research from USA Today, the most common and successful methods used to try to locate survivors include acoustic detection and dogs that can sniff out living survivors.
The outlet noted that aerial drones utilizing cameras and other sensors help rescue teams monitor the collapse to find pockets where it’s safe to enter the debris.
Rescuers will often also use data from smartphones and phone service providers which can show if a missing person was in the area at the time of the disaster.
Even more usefully, search teams can use radar and microwave technology to more accurately pinpoint where survivors may be, according to University of Buffalo professor Joana Gaia.
She described the technology to USA Today as being similar to ‘the technology in cars that beeps when you’re close to hitting something.’
‘Responders are operating on a speed rather than accuracy standpoint,’ Gaia said.
‘They think: ‘If I think a body is there, I don’t care how accurate the signal is. I’m just going to try to go save the person.”
David Proulx, a vice president at defense contractor Teledyne FLIR which specializes in thermal sensing, told USA Today that robotics can be ‘incredibly useful’ in detecting survivors underneath the ground.
‘Once you get into that subterranean realm, ground robotics become incredibly useful. It can safely go where humans can’t,’ Proulx told USA Today.
A crane removes wreckage of a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach, Florida on Friday
Crews have started to use heavy equipment such as cranes to ‘strategically’ lift debris in the search for survivors of the collapse
The outlet reported that at least one company is shipping a ground robot from California to help with the search.
In a press release on Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Florida to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
The action from President Joe Biden authorized FEMA ‘to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population.’
‘Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,’ the news release reads.
The agency said that it would provide assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures under the Individuals and Households Program under the Stafford Act/
Thomas J. McCool has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response operations for the affected area.
Experts are sent to the scene to examine the collapse after 2020 report warned the 12-story building was sinking one year ago
While the focus now is on the hunt for survivors, questions are being asked about what caused the 1980s building to suddenly collapse.
A team of scientists and engineers from the federal government agency responsible for leading investigations into building failures is now being sent to the collapse site to gather information on what went wrong.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told The Hill the experts will ‘work with federal, state and local authorities to identify and preserve materials that might be helpful in understanding why the collapse occurred.’
The assistance from the group, set up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, comes as speculation continues to build over whether this week’s tragedy could have been avoided.
It emerged Thursday that scientists had warned that the condo building was sinking and in a potentially dangerous condition one year before it collapsed, while it was due a safety certification review for the first time in 40 years. It had also just undergone improvements to its roof.
Authorities have not yet determined what caused the collapse and Miami-Dade police have opened an investigation – though Mayor Cava said ‘there has been no evidence found of foul play.’
Surfside Town Manager Andy Hyatt told CNN Friday morning there had been no concerns about the building’s safety prior to the disaster but said the town would carry out ‘due diligence’ to determine both what caused it and to ensure other buildings in the area are safe.
However, it has emerged that 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.
Search and rescue personnel have the grim task of pulling a covered body out of the rubble after the partial collapse on Thursday
The tragic scene was likely to be repeated as rescuers pulled a covered body out of the wreckage overnight Thursday
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 on Thursday
A shot from a video posted by the Miami Dade fire department shows firefighters in the rubble trying to find people on Thursday
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.
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
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.
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.
Hundreds of firefighters were seen walking through the wreckage Thursday, picking up other survivors and carrying them away. Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble
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.
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.
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.
Rescue teams rescued 35 people from the damaged building and two people in the hours after it collapsed, 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
‘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.
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.
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.
Rescuers pull a body out of the rubble of the collapsed condo in a harrowing sight as they work through the night on Thursday
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
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.
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.
‘Praying for a miracle’: Pregnant mother of a one-year-old daughter and married father-of-three who had been celebrating his birthday are among missing after Miami condo collapse
Distraught friends and family are ‘praying for a miracle’ as at least 159 people are still missing after a 12-story apartment block collapsed in Miami in a disaster feared to have killed scores of sleeping residents.
Among the missing is the first cousin of the former president of Chile and current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
Pascale Bonnefoy told CNN she had not heard from her father Claudio Bonnefoy since the Champlain Towers South collapsed without warning in the early hours of Thursday morning.
He lived with his wife Maria Bonnefoy in the part of the condo building that has been reduced to rubble, she said.
The couple are among at least 31 Latin American citizens known to be missing including nine Argentinians, six people each from Paraguay, Columbia and Venezuela and three from Uruguay – a number that could climb as the search continues.
Sources close to the investigation told DailyMail.com most people in the building were tourists from Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia and had traveled to the US to get COVID-19 vaccines because they are difficult to get in their respective countries.
Many are thought to have been renting the condos as Airbnbs, making it difficult for officials to identify who could be trapped beneath the rubble of the oceanfront complex.
Paraguay’s First Lady Silvana López Moreira arrived into Florida Thursday as her sister and sister’s family remained missing more than 24 hours on from the disaster.
Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill, and their three young children were reported to be among the missing Thursday.
Moreira is the sister-in-law of Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benítez. The family were said to have been celebrating Luis’s birthday just hours before the tragedy after they had traveled to the US to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
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
Cassandra Stratton (left). Her husband said she was staying in the building and he was speaking on the phone to her at the time it collapsed. She told him the ‘building was shaking’ and, moments later, the line went dead he said. Cassandra had posted a photo of herself on Instagram just hours before (right)
Meanwhile, one concerned husband told Fox21 he was speaking on the phone to his wife who was staying in the building at the time it collapsed.
Michael Stratton, from Denver, said his wife Cassandra Stratton told him the ‘building was shaking’ and, moments later, the line went dead. He has not heard from her since.
‘She described that the building was shaking and then… the phone went dead,’ he said.
Stratton said flew out to Miami as he awaited news about his wife who had been staying in a condo in the building during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cassandra had posted a photo of herself on Instagram just hours before the disaster, posing on a chair in a building in Miami Beach.
Bhavna Patel, a 38-year-old British and US citizen, her husband Vishal Patel, 42, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani, have also not been seen since the building’s collapse, 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 described the couple, who were best man and maid of honor at his wedding, as heaven-sent, adding that ‘now maybe God has come to reclaim his angels.’
A woman who said creaking noises woke her up the night before the building collapsed, is also unaccounted for, according to her son Pablo Rodriguez.
Both his mother and grandmother were in the section of 55 condos that collapsed at Champlain Towers at 1.30am on Thursday.
He told CNN: ‘We are praying for a miracle, but at the same time trying to be as realistic about it as possible.’
The president of Paraguay’s sister-in-law Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill, and their three young children are also still missing, Paraguay’s foreign ministry confirmed.
Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez’s wife Silvana. The family are said to have been celebrating Luis’s birthday just hours before the tragedy.
Also unaccounted for are orthopedic surgeon Brad Cohen and his brother Gary. Brad’s wife Soriya Cohen spoke to reporters and showed pictures of her loved ones on her phone while waiting at the Family Assistance Center set up for relatives.
Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way. 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.’
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.
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’
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.’
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
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
Jay and Frankie Kleiman were believed to have been inside the building with their mother Nancy Kress Levin (pictured) when it collapsed
Edgar Gonzalez (left), who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC. Dr Brad Cohen (right), who is an orthopedic surgeon at a local hospital, hadn’t been heard from since 3am. His wife, Soriya Cohen, said he lived on the 10th floor
Among the missing are orthopedic surgeon Brad Cohen and his brother Gary (Gary is pictured). Brad’s wife Soriya Cohen spoke to reporters and showed pictures of her loved ones on her phone while waiting at the Family Assistance Center set up for relatives.
Soriya Cohen holds up a picture of her husband, Brad
The synagogue at Bal Harbour, about eight blocks from Champlain Towers, has opened it doors to help those affected with food supplies and other donations. Around a dozen members of the synagogue are unaccounted for.
Chani Lipskar, the wife of the rabbi, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that thousands around the world were praying for not just the missing Jews, but everyone else impacted by the tragedy.
Families have started sharing images of their missing relatives online as firefighters continue trawling through the wreckage. Many of their photos have been compiled by CBS4 reporter Frances Wang.
Carlos Pou, who lives in Baco Raton, told The Miami Herald he knew at least six people who were living at or visiting the building at the time of the collapse.
He identified brothers Jay and Frankie Kleiman, their mother Nancy Kress Levin, and Frankie’s wife Annie Ortiz and her son Luis Bermúdez.
Frankie lived on the same floor as his mother Nancy and his brother Jay had been visiting for a funeral, Pou said. He said he’d left several voicemails but had not been able to get hold of the Kleimans.
A friend of the family told the Herald: ‘They are young people with kids. Frankie’s daughter is pregnant.’
The University of Chicago chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement said one of its members Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin had also been inside the building.
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.’
Andres Galfrascoli (left) his partner Fabian Nunez, right, and their newly adopted daughter Sofia, who was six, died while visiting their apartment in Florida to get vaccinated
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
Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin have not been heard from and were staying in the apartment building
Ricky and Maituca Rovirosa are also missing, family members told Local 10
Also missing is a famed Argentinian plastic surgeon, his partner, and their newly-adopted six year-old daughter.
That surgeon – Andres Galfrasconi, 45 – was visiting Miami with his partner Fabian Nunez, 55, and their daughter Sofia, six, 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.
Judy Spiegel, 66, the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel is also missing.
He confirmed in a text message to WRCBTV that she was still unaccounted for Thursday afternoon.
The two lived together.
‘I’m flying to Miami now,’ he wrote. Please pray for her.’
His wife Angela and daughter Devon, 16, survived the disaster and were being treated in Jackson Memorial Hospital.
A family friend told CBS Local Angela saved her daughter’s life by dragging them both from the rubble to safety, despite having suffered a broken pelvis when they both plunged four stories in the collapse.
Graciella Catarossi (left) and her daughter Estella (right) are also missing. They were staying with Graciella’s elderly parents, who have not been identified, but are also unaccounted for
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.
Alfredo and his son Lorenzo Leone are also missing. A friend told CBS4 that their mother was out of town and is flying back
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
Elaine Sabino (left) lived on the 12 floor and Linda March (right) lived in penthouse 4 of the condo. March is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, a friend told Local 10. Both are still missing
A friend said they recognized bunk beds and a desk chair exposed in the side of the partially collapsed building as belonging to the apartment March was staying in
Also missing is Estelle Hedaya.
A friend of Hedaya 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.
Graciella Catarossi, and her daughter Estella are also missing.
A friend told Local 10 that the two were staying with Graciella’s elderly parents, who are also unaccounted for.
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 told CBS4.
Alfredo Leone and his young son Lorenzo are also unaccounted for.
A friend told CBS4 that their mother was out of town and is flying back.
Elaine Sabino was on the 12th floor and is also still missing.
Linda March was renting a penthouse in the condo. March is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York after recovering from COVID-19, a friend told Local 10.
March had been complaining recently about the noise caused by the repairs being made to the tower’s roof, the friend said.
Messages sent to March’s phone were unanswered and the friend said they recognized bunk beds and a desk chair exposed in the side of the partially collapsed building as belonging to the apartment she was staying in.
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.
At least 27 people from Latin American nations are among the missing, the Herald also reported.
Myriam and Arnie Notkin are among the missing. Arnie is a longtime peewee football coach in Flamingo Park, NBC reported
Raymond and Mercedes Urgelles. Their daughter Jenny has been trying to reach them since 5.30am, according to NBC
Theresa Velasquez (left) was missing along with her parents Julio and Angela Velasquez (right). Theresa was visiting them during the collapse and the three have not been heard from, her brother posted on Facebook
Nicky Langesfeld and Luis Sadovnic were living on the eighth floor, CBS4 Miami reported
Moises Rodan, 28, lived in unit 308, according to CBS4 Miami
More than 100 people gathered at a family reunification center by mid-morning on Thursday as they awaited news on their family and friends.
Authorities said 53 people had been accounted for by Thursday afternoon but 159 who are believed to have lived in the building were still missing as of Friday morning. It was unclear whether any, or all of them, were inside at the time of the collapse.
The tower has a mix of seasonal and year-round residents.
Officials say the building keeps a log of guests staying but does not keep track of when owners are in residence.
Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen
Marina Azen and Michael Altman are also missing. Azen has been living in the condo for about 20 years, family told CBS4 Miami
Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends
Thirty-five people were rescued from the damaged building and 14 people, including a young boy, were pulled from the rubble in the early stages of the search operation. Two of those people, including the woman who has since died, were taken to hospital. Three more fatalities were confirmed Friday morning.
Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble and have already warned the recovery efforts could last an entire week.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said rescue teams had made contact with some survivors by mid-morning but did not elaborate on where they were located or if they had been rescued. ‘Right now, we have the fire rescue. They are in search and rescue mode. They are trying to identify survivors, I know they have made contact with some, and I know they are doing everything they can to save lives,’ he said.
The other areas in Miami where buildings are at risk of collapse: Map from report that predicted 12-story condo collapse reveals water-logged spots
The research identified four sites along Miami Beach where the ground is sinking. Champlain Towers South, top right, was sinking at the slowest rate
The report that detailed that the Champlain Towers South building was sinking before its horrific collapse on Thursday described other areas in Miami Beach where buildings could be at risk of collapse because of land sinking and coastal flooding.
The study revealed that in southwest South Beach, there is significant coastal flooding. It also identified other parts of northeast Miami Beach where the ground has sunk.
The report was done by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University. He studied Miami Beach last year and a coastal town in Virginia to see where coastal flooding might have impacted the ground and caused it to sink.
When Champlain Towers collapsed on Thursday, Wdowinski said it came as no surprise given his research last year.
It’s unclear if he gave any kind of warning to the building operators last year after he carried out his research.
It found that the ground beneath the building has been sinking at a rate of 1.9mm every year since the 1990s.
Another site where the same thing was happening is in the area surrounding Park View Island, near where there is an elementary school.
That patch of land has been sinking faster than the land beneath Champlain Towers South – at 2.3mm a year.
Further south, there are two sites in the Flamingo/Lummus area of South Beach that Wdowinski’s team identified as also sinking at rates of 2.2mm a year and 2mm a year. They are in a residential and commercial district, just to the east of Star Island, the celebrity enclave.
He also found that North Bay Village, an island in between Miami Beach and Miami, was sinking.
In an interview with USA Today on Thursday, Wdowinski said: ‘I looked at it this morning and said ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that.’
He maintains that land subsidence would not cause a building to collapse and that something else must have contributed to it.
The study analyzed data from satellites using the technology Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar, known as InSAR, to compile datasets spanning from 1992–1999.
The map shows Miami Beach, left, with locations were there high amounts of land subsidence (in red) and coastal flooding (in blue). It reveals that there are other areas where the ground has subsided at a faster rate than where the Champlain Tower South collapsed
The team analyzed four sites where the ground has been sinking. The top one shows the Champlain Towers site and the others are all parts of land where there are apartment buildings, stores and even one near an elementary school. They were all sinking at a faster rate than the Champlain Towers site. The researchers say this alone shouldn’t cause buildings to collapse so there’s no need for alarm
The center portion of the tower was the first to fall with the east section of the building collapsing moments later
The study found that land sank in locations around Miami Beach at rates between 1 and 3 millimeters per year- mainly in parts of the city built on reclaimed wetlands.
In Norfolk, land subsidence was seen in areas along the shore and inland at similar rates – with some areas showing land sinking at rates up to 8 millimeters per year.
According to the United States Geological Survey, more than 80% of known land subsidence in the U.S. ‘is a consequence of groundwater use and is an often-overlooked environmental consequence’ of land and water-use practices.
‘Land subsidence is a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface due to removal or displacement of subsurface earth materials,’ according to the agency.
It can occur at different rates and has even been recorded at rates more than 200 millimeters per year in some places around the globe like Jakarta, Indonesia.
Norfolk and Miami Beach were chosen as the locations for the study because both communities have been subjected to repeated coastal flooding over the past decade, the researchers said in the study.
In Norfolk, flooding has occurred in multiple locations throughout the city characterized by low elevation.
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
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 results indicate that about 97% of Miami Beach was stable during the observation period but several localized subsiding areas were detected mostly in the western part of the city.
The study noted that most of the subsidence happened at single-family houses that were built on reclaimed wetlands. However, the study also specifically called out the Champlain Towers South condominium.
‘In some locations, as in the eastern part of the city, the detected subsidence is of a 12-story high condominium building,’ the report reads.
However, the study determined that higher subsidence rates up to 3.8 millimeters per year were registered in the artificial islands located west of the city like the Venetian Islands as well as North Bay Village.
Portions of Miami Beach like Mid-Beach and Bayshore as well as La Gorce appeared to show lower levels of subsidence.
‘The rest of the city remained stable,’ the report reads.
Luckily, some of Miami Beach’s tallest buildings, including the 44-floor Green Diamond and Blue Diamond towers, appear to sit in areas with low levels of land subsidence.
The report appears to conclude that the geology of the area, which is made up of a plateau of karst limestone, may contribute to localized subsidence even though no regional subsidence has been recorded in south Florida.
Wdowinski uploaded a video to the Vimeo platform on Thursday explaining the findings of his study and why it had been conducted.
‘For this area of the Atlantic Coast, at the time, there weren’t at the time many observations,’ he said.
He said that the 1 to 3 millimeters per year subsidence is ‘pretty small’ but added ‘when you think about the accumulation over time then it can be a few inches over decades and that was our concern.’
Wdowinski said that InSar has been used to monitor buildings and in many cases where buildings crack and move, they also show subsidence.
‘We’ve seen that in another study that we studied detections of sinkholes in central western Florida, we saw that there were some buildings that moved and when we went to check we saw there were some cracks,’ Wdowinski said.
The researcher said that the InSar technology is commonly used around the world to detect movement of buildings.
‘In most cases, these buildings move and there’s no catastrophic collapse like in the case here in Surfside – which was very unfortunate,’ he said.
Wdowinski said that the western parts of the city where the researchers detected subsidence were in places where the researchers had expected to see the subsidence.
‘There was unusual pocket we saw in surfside which was in the eastern side, known to be a stable part of the city,’ he said.
‘Over there, we didn’t expect to see subsidence, so we didn’t pay too much attention to that. We just recorded it because that’s what the data shows.’
He added: ‘We just reported that because the focus of the study was about land subsidence and not about trying to analyze building damage or anything like that. So it’s a byproduct of our analysis that we saw movement and we didn’t pay that much attention and just recorded it in the paper.’
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
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.
He said that the land subsidence seen in Miami Beach occurs in ‘smaller pockets’ about the size of a house than like that he had detected in Mexico City.
‘In some cases, it can be just that the building is not built properly and it can have cracks because of the problem of the building itself and it still moves – and we can detect it with this technology.’
In Miami Beach, the city is built on a barrier island that has a rockier foundation on the eastern side. The western side was made of wetlands that were reclaimed before houses were built on the reclaimed wetlands – which tends to subside in a process called soil consolidation.
‘In the eastern side of the city where the buildings are built on bedrock, it’s less likely to have movement of the building and the ground beneath the building – which is why we didn’t expect to see any movement,’ he said.
‘The building can move due to the land or can be due to cracks within the buildings and hundreds of buildings have cracks and they move … and it doesn’t mean it will collapse.’
He said there was ‘something from an engineering point of view that caused it to collapse’ and that it could have been from the ground moving or cracks that had formed in the building in the 1990s.