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Miami condo collapse news summary: Saturday 26 June 2021

The arm of an earth mover is seen as emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. June 25, 2021.  REUTERS/Octavio Jones     TPX IMAGES OF THE

Miami building collapse: breaking news


- Rescue workers' efforts to find survivors have continued for a second night

- US President Joe Biden approves emergency declaration in Florida, sends in FEMA officials (full story)

- First lawsuit filed against condominium association: $5m in damages sought

- 2018 structural report warned of major issues with building

- Second nearby tower evacuated out of abundance of caution

What we know:

- Residential building collapsed on Thursday

- Five people confirmed dead in the disaster

- Four of the victims identified by the Miami-Dade Police Department

- At least 159 people still unaccounted for and 127 accounted for, says Miami-Dade County mayor

- Exact location: Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, Florida

- Causes of the building's sudden collapse remain unclear (full story)

Related news articles:

Four of the victims from Miami condo collapse identified

The Miami-Dade Police Department has released the names of four victims that died after the collapse on Thursday of a residential condominium in Surfside, Florida. 

Similar tower to the Miami condo that collapsed, evacuated 

Authorities out of an abundance of caution are helping residents evacuate from a nearby tower built in the same year by the same developer as Champlain Tower. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Reuters he had no information to indicate the north tower had similar structural flaws. The evacuation is voluntary but many residents are not taking the risk of staying. FEMA will relocate residents while a thorough review of the property is performed. 

Surfside building official didn’t see any “red flags” hours before condo collapse 

Jim McGuinness, a building official for Surfside, Florida said at an emergency meeting on Friday that he saw nothing of concern just hours before part of Champlain Towers collapsed. He was inspecting work on the building’s roof anchors, used by window cleaners, just 14 hours before the catastrophic structural failure occurred.

Death toll in Miami condo collapse rises to five

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a press conference Saturday evening that a body was recovered from the rubble of the Surfside condominium building that collapsed on Thursday.

Additional human remains have been uncovered as well which will undergo DNA analysis. Family members of those missing have been asked to provide samples.

Engineer warned of ‘major structural damage’ at Florida condo complex

New York Times - Three years before the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex near Miami, a consultant found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the 13-story building.

The engineer’s report helped shape plans for a multimillion-dollar repair project that was set to get underway soon - more than two and a half years after the building managers were warned - but the building suffered a catastrophic collapse in the middle of the night on Thursday, crushing sleeping residents in a massive heap of debris.

Full story

An emergency mobile command center from Florida's Escambia County is being deployed to aid in the recovery and rescue efforts of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.

The command center, known as THOR, is scheduled to leave Sunday morning at the request of the state, the county's emergency management team said in a news release Saturday afternoon. An emergency management employee will also be deployed with THOR for 10 days.

The mobile command post offers 1,000 square feet of working space, according to the news release. It has a 44-kilowatt generator with 72 hours of fuel on board as well as dual air conditioning units. 

"The situation in which we have to use this resource is very unfortunate," Eric Gilmore, Escambia County's interim public safety director, said in a statement. "We are proud to assist our partners in any way we can."

Son of missing woman: "I just want my mom back"

CNN - Josh Spiegel, whose mother Judy Spiegel is missing, said his family is "just trying to keep it together" as they wait for rescue updates from the Surfside building collapse.

"As a doctor, I've taken care of a lot of burn patients and trauma patients, and this is not good. And I'm scared to death. I just want my mom back. And we're praying as much as possible. We just want more people to help. So, if there's anyone else that can help, that's all that we want. We love my mom. She's the most amazing person in the world. We would literally do anything because we know that she would do anything for us," Josh Spiegel told CNN.

Rachel Spiegel, daughter of Judy Spiegel, said that she is "very concerned."

She described her mother as "the best person in the world. She's so caring and loving. She loves my kids."

Rachel Spiegel said that one of her daughters offered to help find her grandma, because "she's really good at playing hide and seek, so she's probably hiding in her house. Can I go there with you? I know where she hides."

Judy Spiegel's husband was not in the building at the time of the collapse.

"My heart breaks for my dad, but at the same time, I'm just so thankful that he wasn't there, too. You know, obviously, the thought of losing my mom, who is my rock and my best friend and everything is the most awful thing, but I don't really know if I would be standing if I lost two," Rachel Spiegel said.

"I've never seen so much pain in all my family's eyes, and my heart is shattered," Josh Spiegel said.

The family is asking for as much help as possible as they continue to await to hear news about Judy Spiegel.

Read more

Daughter of missing parents calls the tragedy at Surfside "horrific and bizarre"

CNN - Gil Guerra and his wife Betty Guerra lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside, Florida, condominium building that partially collapsed on Thursday, his daughter told CNN.

Michelle Guerra said that they haven’t gotten any word on her dad and stepmom since the collapse.

“We’re doing our best to stay hopeful. That’s what they would want,” she said over Facebook Messenger on Saturday. “This is all so horrific and bizarre. They are both such caring, hardworking people. They only got married late 2017 and have been living it up like two teenagers in love, traveling the world and eating all they can together. They lived a full time together," she said.

What we know about those missing in the Miami condo building collapse

The wait for news of the almost 160 people still unaccounted for grew increasingly dire days after a 12-story condominium building collapsed Thursday just north of Miami. Some prayed for a miracle. Others already began to speak about their loved ones in past tense.

As of Friday, 159 people were still unaccounted for, authorities said. At least four people are dead.

Relatives issued a statement identifying one of the deceased as Stacie Fang. Her son, Jonah Handler, was rescued from the rubble hours after the collapse.

The collapse has become an international tragedy as news reverberates globally of missing residents with roots around the world, reflecting the Miami area's international mix. Among them are Orthodox Jews from Russia, South American immigrants and the sister of Paraguay's first lady.

Read the full story

Miami condo building had major structural damage, 2018 report notes

TMZ - The Miami condominium building that partially crumbled to the ground - leaving at least 4 dead and dozens of others unaccounted for - seemed to be an accident waiting to happen ... at least that's what an engineering report suggested as early as 2018.

The city of Surfside - where this awful tragedy happened - released a number of docs related to the building, known as Champlain Towers South, and its architectural history ... and one report from engineering firm Morabito Consultants has some potentially damning findings.

Read the full story

Anger at Miami disaster response, and demands for answers

AFP - The death toll is so far four dead and 159 missing.

Local authorities say they have deployed hundreds of firefighters and rescuers to find survivors among the remains of the twelve-story building overlooking the sea, which collapsed during Thursday's early hours.

From his balcony overlooking the rubble of what used to be Champlain Towers, Maurice Wachsmann lambasts the pace of the recovery operation after the building's collapse.

"It is absolutely not a rescue operation," he says.

His best friend Chaim Rosenberg, who had an apartment on the second floor, is missing along with his son and daughter-in-law.

Full story

Miami Condo Collapse: What has President Biden said in response? 


Miami Condo Collapse: What has President Biden said in response? 

Early Thursday morning, a twelve-story condominium in Surfside, Florida, near Key West suddenly collapsed. 

This sort of event is unprecedented in the United States, and state and federal agencies are working around the clock to identify those trapped in the rubble. As residents of the former building find shelter in hospitals and hotels, President Biden has said the federal government is committed to supporting them until the disaster is over.

A statement released by the White House stated that in a call between the President and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Biden said that the federal government “stands ready to provide additional resources and assistance that state and local officials need.” He also expressed his condolences to the governor and the “Surfside community, sharing his grief for the families who lost loved ones in this devastating tragedy and for the families who are waiting in anguish as search and rescue efforts continue.”

Full story

Climate Change

The Miami area is one part of the country that has already begun to feel the impacts of climate change and the subsequent rise in sea levels.

A recent report from Yahoo News outlines how some experts believe the changing climate may have impacted the building’s structural integrity

David Knowles described how “the base of South Florida’s barrier islands is porous limestone,” and that as the ocean begins to “encroach” on the land, the ground can become unstable.

Why did the building in Miami collapse? possible causes, victims, and response from officials


Why did the building in Miami collapse? possible causes, victims, and response from officials

Residents of Florida, and many around the United States, were shocked to see a Miami apartment building suddenly collapse on Thursday, 24 June. So far, emergency personnel have accounted for 102 residents, but another 159 are still missing in the rubble, and sadly, four casualties have been reported.

The condominium was built in 1981, a factor that some say could mean that the building was not in compliance with modern construction codes. According to the Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jeanette Nuñez, of the 136 united that made up the condominium, 55 collapsed. In her comments with Fox Business, Ms. Nuñez said that there are “one hundred and thirty plus first responders units on the scene” who are working as quickly as they can to find and care for victims who were trapped under the rubble.

Full details

Miami-Dade County mayor: “No further victims have been found”

In her press conference a few minutes ago, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also confirmed that “no further victims have been found” in the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside.

“The numbers are the same as they were yesterday: 127 have been accounted for, 159 unaccounted for and four confirmed dead,” Cava said.

“Our top priority now continues to be search and rescue. We continue to have hope, we continuing to search, we’re looking for people alive in the rubble, that is our priority and our teams have not stopped. Hour after hour through the night they have been working.”

Daniella Levine Cava press conference

Fire hampering search and rescue efforts - Miami-Dade Country mayor

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says a "very deep fire" in the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers South apartments block is hindering rescue workers' search for survivors

"It's extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire," Cava told a news conference on Saturday, per CNN.

"So they've been working around the clock, these fire rescue teams, these brave men and women, under the rubble to fix this problem so they can get on, but it is hampering our search efforts."

(Photo: Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP)

Surfside memorial

People look at flowers and pictures of missing people hanging on a fence at a memorial for victims of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers North residential building, as emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors.

(Photo: REUTERS/Octavio Jones

Permit for roof repairs was issued day before building's collapse

It has emerged that the Champlain Towers South apartment building had received a permit for repair work on the roof on Wednesday, the day before it collapsed.

The permit allowed construction workers to "install roof safety anchors and provide minimal stucco repairs".

At this point it’s not clear whether these repairs bear any relation to the building’s collapse.

Surfside mayor calls for evacuation of apartment block’s sister building

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett says he has recommended the evacuation of Champlain Towers South’s sister building, Champlain Towers North, following Thursday’s partial collapse of the apartment block.

“Buildings in America do not fall down like this. There was a very serious problem here with this property, and I’ve also said that we have an identical property one building to the north,” Burkett told CNN on Saturday.

“This is Champlain South, we have a Champlain North and I’ve talked to [Florida] Senator [Rick] Scott and [Miami-Dade County] Mayor [Daniella Levine] Cava about this. That building has the same name, had the same developer, it probably had the same materials, it probably had the same plans, and people are asking me: Is the building safe? I can’t tell them it is safe. I can’t tell them that.

So I’ve recommended that that building be evacuated pending a thorough structural investigation. Just in an abundance of caution. Because I don’t think people need to live with the possibility or even the thought that their building has a one-in-a-million chance of coming down.”

Surfside firefighters

Miami-Dade firefighters survey the rubble of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.


Structural issues with building flagged up in 2018

In the tweet below, you can see some images from the 2018 building report that warned of “major structural damage” in the Champlain Towers South block of apartments, including “signs of distress/fatigue” in the parking garage, where there were “several sizable” cracks in the concrete.

This Miami Herald report also offers images of the cracking reported by the engineer Frank Morabito of Morabito Consultants.

Surfside missing posters, Miami-Dade County, Florida

Over 150 people remain missing

Pictures of some of the 159 people still missing are seen hanging on a fence at a memorial in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, as rescue workers continue to search the rubble of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South apartment building.

(Photo: REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona)

Miami-Dade County mayor: “We are going to get to the bottom of this”

Speaking to NBC’s Today Show on Saturday morning, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has said their is no change to the numbers previously provided: four confirmed deaths, at least 159 people unaccounted or.

Asked about the emergence of a 2018 report that highlighted major structural issues with the Champlain Towers South apartment complex, Cava said the immediate priority is searching for survivors, but vowed to “get to the bottom” of why the building collapsed on Thursday.

Of course we’re going to be searching for all the answers, we’re going to be looking at all the evidence,” she said.

“We have every possible resource available to us from the federal government to state and local. We are going to get to the bottom of this and find answers, and prevent if from ever happening again.”

Miami Condo Collapse: What has President Biden said in response? 


Miami Condo Collapse: What has President Biden said in response? 

As the federal, state, and local emergency work together to identify those trapped under the rubble, President Biden has announced more support for those impacted.

Desperate attempts to contact loved ones following building collapse

Family members are frantically trying to get in touch with loved ones who remain missing after Thursday’s collapse of the Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside, Florida.

Speaking to CNN, Sarina Patel said attempts to contact her uncle, his pregnant wife and their young daughter had so far proved unsuccessful, adding that she is “praying for a miracle”.

"We had tried calling them countless times, and there's just been no answers," Patel said. "We have a large extended family. They always stay in touch with someone everyday. They haven't contacted anybody. We've called multiple hospitals within that area and there's no sight of them anywhere."

Miami building collapse rescue efforts by rescue workers

Emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors on Friday.

(Photo: REUTERS/Octavio Jones)

Lawsuit seeks $5m in damages from condominium association

The first lawsuit has been filed as a result of Thursday’s tragedy, according to reports. The Hill states that the Brad Sohn Law Firm has lodged a suit seeking $5m in damages from the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association.

Sohn told the Hill: "As a lawyer, I can’t fix what is irreparable. But what I can do is fight to immediately fully compensate these victims so that they can focus all of their energy on healing as best they can."

Fire dept's warning for residents of surrounding area

Late on Friday, residents of the area surrounding the collapsed building in Surfside were being urged by Miami-Dade fire services to remain indoors with their doors and windows closed due to the smoky conditions.

"We have not lost hope"

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez has praised rescue teams' “admirable and humbling” efforts as the search for survivors of the Surfside building collapse continues. “We have not lost hope,” Ramirez added.

Miami building collapse

"You gotta have hope"

"We have hope because that's what our search-and-rescue team tells us, that they have hope," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference on Friday, as efforts to find survivors continued overnight in Surfside.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Andy Alvarez said in an interview with CNN: "You gotta have hope. We're doing everything we can to bring your family member out alive."

Alvarez recalled that his team once pulled a girl out of earthquake debris in Haiti eight days into the rescue effort.

(Reuters contributed to this post; photo: Reuters/Octavio Jones)

Live updates on Surfside building collapse: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the aftermath of Thursday's collapse of a residential building in Surfside, a small coastal town located in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Rescue teams' efforts to find survivors were continuing overnight. At the time of writing, four people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, while at least a further 159 remain unaccounted for.


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