Miami (AP) —Friday firefighters declare end of search for bodies where Florida condominiums collapsed, removing a layer of dangerous debris that was once piled up several floors a month I’ve finished the painstaking work.
The collapse of Champlain Towers South by the sea on June 24 killed 97 people and at least one more missing person has not yet been identified. The site was cleaned almost flat and the rubble was moved to a warehouse in Miami. Forensic scientists are still working, including examining debris in warehouses, but no more bodies are found where the building once stood.
Survivors never appeared, except in the early hours after the collapse. The search team spent weeks fighting the dangers of rubble, including the unstable parts of the building wobbling above, recurring fires, and Florida’s breathtaking summer heat and thunderstorms. They worked rock-by-rock, often rock-by-rock, through over 14,000 tonnes (13,000 metric tonnes) of broken concrete and rebar, often before finally declaring the mission complete.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Team’s Urban Search and Rescue Team withdrew from the scene on Friday with a convoy of fire trucks and other vehicles, slowly headed to headquarters for a press conference, and announced that the search had officially ended. did.
At the ceremony, fire chief Alan Kominsky paid tribute to the firefighters who took turns working 12 hours while camping on the scene.
“It’s obviously catastrophic. It’s obviously a totally difficult situation,” Kominsky said. “I couldn’t be proud of the men and women representing the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Team.”
Authorities refuse to clarify whether there is one additional set of human bodies that pathologists are having difficulty identifying, or whether the search for that final set of bodies will continue. Did.
If found, Estelle Hedaya will kill 98 people.
Hedaya was an extroverted 54-year-old who loved to travel and liven up conversations with strangers. Her younger brother, Ikey, provided a DNA sample and visited the site twice to confirm her own search work.
“When we enter the second month without other family members, we feel helpless,” he told The Associated Press on Friday. He said he would receive frequent updates from the coroner’s office.
Leah Sutton, who knew Hedaya from birth and thought she was her second mother, is worried she might be forgotten.
“They seem to pack up and congratulate everyone on their well-doed work. And yes, they deserve all the praise, but after they find Esther.”
The dead included members of the region’s large Orthodox Jewish community, sisters of the First Lady in Paraguay, her family and their nanny, a local salesman, his wife and two young daughters. I did.
The collapse fueled competition to inspect Florida and other dilapidated residential towers since then, which raised broader questions about the Condominium Management Companies and national regulations governing building safety.
Immediately after the disaster, it became clear that the warning about Champlan Towers South, which opened in 1981, was ignored. The 2018 Engineering Report details cracks and deterioration of concrete support beams in underground parking lots, as well as other issues that cost nearly $ 10 million to repair.
Estimates increased to $ 15 million this year as 136 units of the building and the owners of its managed condominiums fought over costs, especially after surfside town inspectors said the building was safe without repairs. did.
It was almost impossible to imagine a complete collapse. As many officials said on the first day of the catastrophe, buildings of that size do more than just collapse in the United States outside of terrorist attacks. Even tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes rarely defeat them.
The final fate of where the building used to be has not yet been determined. The judge, who presides over several proceedings filed in the aftermath of the collapse, wants the property to be sold at market prices, which will bring an estimated $ 100 million or more. Some owners of the condominium want to rebuild it, while others say they should build a monument to commemorate the dead.
“All options are being considered,” Judge Michael Handsman of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court said at a hearing this week.
The disaster was one of the most deadly engineering failures in the United States. In 1981, a series of overhead walkways collapsed at a hotel in Kansas City, killing 114 people who participated in the dance. But it wasn’t the structure itself. A cinema in Washington, DC collapsed in 1922, killing 98 people. But that happened after the blizzard snowed the flat roof.
A few weeks after the collapse, the 28-story courthouse in downtown Miami, built in 1928, and two apartments were closed after inspectors discovered a structural problem. They will remain closed until repairs are made.
The first call to 911 was made around 1:20 am when residents of Champlan reported that the parking lot had collapsed. A woman standing on the balcony called her husband on a business trip and said the pool had fallen into the garage.
Then, in an instant, a part of the L-shaped building collapsed straight. Eight seconds later, another section followed, with 35 surviving in the standing area. In the first few hours, teens were rescued and firefighters believed that others might be found alive. They took hope from the sound emanating from the inside of the mountain that the survivors might have hit, but in retrospect, the sound came from moving debris.
The rescue team worked tirelessly, even when the smoke and heat from the fire inside the standing parts of the building hampered their efforts. When temperatures were pushed up in the late 90’s (35 degrees Celsius) under the scorching sun, they persisted and struggled somewhat until IV was needed to replenish the liquid. They continued as the tropical cyclone Elsa passed nearby and caused torrential rains. They left the mountain only when lightning struck.
The part of the building that remained standing poses another serious threat as it approaches instability over the workers. Authorities ordered it to be demolished on July 4.
In the end, the crew did not find evidence that those found dead survived the first collapse, Kominsky said.