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Miami condo collapse news summary: Tuesday 29 June 2021

Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 28, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. - Questions mounted Monday about how a residential building in the Miami area could have c


-NEW: Why did the building collapse? What we know so far.

-Experts begin to way in on what may have been the "failure point" of the collapse. (Full details)

- Search and rescue efforts continue following the collapse on Thursday of the Champlain Towers South apartment block in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, Florida

- Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announces that another body has been recovered, with 11 people now confirmed to have died in the disaster

- At least 151 people are still missing, while 135 have been accounted for

- The fire in the debris that was hampering rescue efforts has now been controlled, allowing rescue operations to take place across the site

- Champlain Towers South's sister building has been evacuated

- The causes of the building's sudden collapse remain unclear

Related news articles:

Lucky escape for 88-year-old resident

Esther Gorfinkel has lived in Champlain Towers for almost half of her life but the 88-year-old said she could never have imagined that the 12-floor, 156-unit Miami condo would collapse into a pile of rubble. She described how she was evacuate from the building in the early hours of the morning just as the tragedy began. She was in bed in her fifth floor apartment when she felt the whole building shake. “Who would think that something like this would happen at 1:30 in the morning? In your life? In my old age that I would see something so horrible like this?” she told WPLG Local 10, adding that she put on a house coat and started making her way down the stairwell. She was helped out by a neighbour, Albert Aguero. Gorfinkel says she lost everything in the tragedy. "My wedding pictures.. My mother’s wedding pictures.. My children’s wedding pictures. Pictures in an album of my husband after the war. You know how many albums of pictures I have? Everything is in there. My poor birds are dead. I left two birds in there,”


Infrared cameras discover pockets within the rubble

WPLG's Glenna Milberg reports that rescue units using infrared cameras have discovered a number of pockets within the collapsed building. Those pockets are large enough to potentially hold survivors

Miami-Dade rescue workers have removed 3 million pounds of debris so far

On Day Six of the search and rescue operation at the collapsed apartment building in Surfside, Florida, Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky said rescue workers have removed 3 million pounds of rubble and debris from so far. Speaking during this morning's press briefing, Cominsky told reporters, "We continue to search, layer by layer, removing debris and we continue to move forward in our search and rescue efforts. As we mentioned before, this is a very tedious effort. It is devastating what occurred in regards to the collapse and what we are seeing. We are moving debris piece by piece and searching through. We moved over approximately three million pounds of concrete at this time, over 850 cubic feet. When we first arrived and what we saw, the horrific, catastrophic collapse. During that timeframe, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were able to remove 37 individuals. We continue searching".


Man saved from collapse after spending the night at his girlfriend's house

On Wednesday 23 June, Erick De Moura was visiting his girlfriend, Fernanda Figueiredo. He had hoped to be back home to get an early night in his 10th-floor apartment at Champlain Tower South but got caught in the rain and decided to stay over with his girlfriend - a decision which saved his life. As he explained to NBC Miami, "If it wasn’t for her, I would be dead," he said. "When I saw the images, I couldn't believe it. It was shocking. That was my home."

Erick lived in one of the upper floors of the northside of the building and said he knows of no other survivors from his side of the complex.

Read the full story here

Firefighters leave food for cat stranded on fourth floor of Miami condo

Miami-Dade firefighters used a cherry-picker truck to leave food and water on the balcony of a fourth-floor apartment on the west side of the building which remains standing but is unstable. Coco, is the pet cat of an 89-year-old resident and her daughter who were pulled to safety after the collapse. According to the Miami Herald, the family’s dog, named Rigatoni, is safe after being rescued by firefighters on Thursday.


Collins Avenue from 81st to 91st Street remains closed

Miami-Dade Police inform that Collins Avenue from 81st to 91st Street and Harding Avenue from 81st to 96th Street are closed to the public with the exception of residents, hotel staff and guests, business owners, employees and customers. The also warn to expect traffic delays in the area.

Mayor Burkett on claims an additional floor was illegally added to Florida condo building

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he has information which has yet to be confirmed that an additional floor may have been added to the 12-storey Champlain Towers South building. Speaking at this morning's press briefing he said, "I gotta tell you honestly that I have been formally briefed that there may have been an additional storey added at the last minute... Based upon the plans and based upon what our staff have been able to unearth so far. I can't confirm that was the case, but certainly if a building was built with a set of plans and people come along and say, 'Gee, the view's really nice here from the fourth floor, I think we'd better add another one, just for fun, that would be pretty significant. We're going to look at that and find out if that actually happened".

Surfside building collapse not linked to US Navy shock tests

One of the many theories as to why the building at 8777 Collins Avenue, Surfside collapsed was that the structure could have been undermined by shock tests being conducted by the US Navy just off the Florida coast on 18 June. The USS Gerald R. Ford was positioned about 100 miles from Ponce Inlet in Volusia County when a 40,000 pound explosive was detonated in the water. 

US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center seismologist Paul Earle doesn't believe that the two events are linked, as he explained to the Miami Herald,  "Given the size of the explosion, the distance from the building, and the time between the explosion and the collapse, we do not see any reasonable mechanism for the Navy explosion on June 18 to have triggered the collapse of the Miami Beach-area condo on June 24. There are about 300 earthquakes of similar size to the Navy explosion in the contiguous U.S. every year, none of which have triggered a major building collapse."

Mayor Burkett on the chances of finding survivors

Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett was one of several figures who attended the media at this morning's press briefing. Here is what he said: "Overnight, there were issues with debris falling off the building, the west side of the pile had to be cordoned off a little bit because it was becoming excessively dangerous to work there. I understand that work continues from the sides and underneath. They have made very good progress on the east end, it's apparent that they've got the pile down to the point where you can see into the parking lot. Lastly, with respect to the site, there are an overwhelming amount of rescue workers on the site, working with cranes to take off debris, work continues," he explained.

He continued, "One of the other questions by the family members was, 'How long can people survive under the rubble?' An excellent question. There didn't seem to be a good answer to that. Several days ago, I sent Mayor Cava a copy of an article that I was sent, which dealt exactly with that point. I thought it was very important to let the family members know, so I stood up and I talked about what I knew from the article. There were several different incidents but the most notable was the one from May 2013 when a woman was pulled from the ruins of a factory in Bangladesh 17 days after it collapsed. Nobody is giving up hope here, nobody's stopping, the work goes on, we are dedicated to getting everyone out of that pile of rubble and reuniting them with their families".          

Statement from Miami-Dade Mayor on Biden's visit

Miami-Dade county Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has issued a statement on President Biden's visit to Miami later this week.


Miami-Dade Mayor talks of "excruciating wait"

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava gave a press briefing on Tuesday, to update reporters on the latest developments as workers continue sifting through the rubble of the collapsed South Florida condo building with the hope of finding survivors fading by the hour.  "We have people waiting and waiting and waiting for news," she explained. "We have them coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive and still hope against hope that they will. They’re learning that some of their loved ones will come out as body parts. This is the kind of information that is just excruciating for everyone."

Filipino woman and her Chilean husband missing in condo collapse

Philippines-born Obias-Bonnefoy emigrated to the Washington area in the 1970s and met her husband, Claudio Bonnefoy, a native of Chile. They lived on the 10th floor in Unit 1001 of the Champlain Towers South condominium and are among the 150 people missing after the building’s partial collapse on Thursday, the Miami Herald reports.

Read the full story here

Biden Miami

President Biden to visit Surfside, Florida on Thursday

President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will be visiting Surfside later this week, the White House confirmed. While boarding Marine One, Tuesday, a reporter asked the president if he was planning to visit Florida. “Yes, I hope so. As soon as we can, maybe as early as Thursday,” Biden said.


Residents warned of $15million repair bill in April

Residents of the Miami condo building that collapsed in the early hours of Thursday were warned in April that they would have to pay around $15million in repairs following an engineer's report which detailed extensive cracking to concrete in the garage, the roof and balconies. Residents were given until 1 July to decide whether to pay the full amount up front or in installments over 15 years. 

Damage to building's concrete was accelerating in April

More developments regarding the investigation to determine the cause of the Surfside building collapse:

As reported by USA Today, according to a letter written last April, the president of the association that represents the Champlain Towers noted the damage to the basement garage had “gotten significantly worse” and the concrete damage was “accelerating".


Here are the names of the 11 victims that have been so far identified:

Marcus Joseph Guara (52)
Frank Kleiman (55)
Michael Altman (50)
Leon Oliwkowicz (80)
Luis Bermúdez (26)
Ana Ortiz (46)
Christina Beatriz Elvira (74)
Stacie Fang (54)
Anthony Lozano (83)
Gladys Lozano (79)
Manuel LaFont (54)

Building collapse survivor says: "Don't give up"

A Virginia man who was rescued from a collapsed apartment building 20 years ago has urged rescue workers and families not to give up hope.

"When I look at it I just feel like, there has to be someone who is somewhere in the corner, stuck in a place where the person is not injured, but just stuck, just waiting for help,” Viral Dalal told NBC.

“It is incredible where your mind can take you,” he added, recalling his own ordeal. “Your mind can take you to dark places and I had to pull myself back up from where my mind was trying to take me and where I wanted to go.”

“Don’t give up on hope. Don’t give up, because the people who came to rescue me, they never gave up."

See full story....

No plans for Biden to visit disaster site

As of now, there are no plans for President Joe Biden to visit the site of the Surfside disaster, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has stated. Biden will undoubtedly face criticism should he not make a trip to the area...

New evidence comes to light in building collapse

New evidence has come to light in the investigation to determine what called the Champlain Towers building collapse. The Miami Herald has published photos taken by contractor taken two days before the disaster, which show exposed rebar in the concrete slab and standing water in the basement garage. ABC reports....

Rain could hamper rescue operations

CBS meteorologist Lissette Gonzalez has warned of the threat of rain later in the Surfside area, which could have an impact on the rescue operation that continue round the clock at the site of the Champlain Towers disaster...

Families of those still missing under the rubble were faced with an excruciatingly painful truth should the bodies of their loved ones be found...

Beach vigil held in honor of Surfside victims

Some images from ABC News of the beach vigil that took place last night in honor of the victims of the Surfside building collapse...

Surfside mayor shares story of girl praying for one of her parents missing in building collapse

Surfside mayor Charles Burkett shared as story at a press conference on Monday about his encounter with a girl who was praying for one of her missing parents at the site of Thursday’s apartment collapse.

CHARLES BURKETT: Late last night, I had toured-- and this is on the personal side-- I had toured the site, as I normally do. Usually, I'm there three times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and evening. And I came across a little girl. She's about 11 or 12 years old.

And I had seen this little girl before. And I know because she was with her mom, and we had talked. And I-- and she have been with her dad. I'm not quite sure. But she-- one of her parents was in that building at the time of the collapse, and the other parent lives a couple buildings away. And she told me she goes back and forth.

When I came across her, she was sitting in a chair by herself, with nobody around her, looking at her phone. And I knelt down and I asked her, I said, so what are you doing? Are you OK? And she said yes. And she said something. And what she was telling me, I never-- it was a-- it was a Jewish prayer. But she was reading a Jewish prayer to herself, sitting at the site by where one of her parents presumably is.

And that really brought it home to me. That-- and she was just-- she wasn't crying. She was just lost. She didn't know what to do, what to say, who to talk to. And I was looking for her this morning at the family meeting, and I didn't see her. But I am going to find her, and I'm going to tell her that we're all here for her, and we're going to do the best we can to bring out that parent.

So anyway, it's horrific. This is disturbing, but that is just a tiny, tiny example of the impact that this collapse has had on our community. Thank you.

"Major error" in building's original design

As investigations continue to determine what caused the Surfside building condo to collapse, a lot of attention has been focused on a 2018 report, in which an engineer discovered "a major error" in the building's original design, citing "major structural damage" to the concrete slab below the pool caused by failed waterproofing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis thanks first responders

Florida governor RonDesantis once against took to Twitter to thanks first responders, as well as law enforcement and volunteers for their "countless hours" of "selfless work"...


In picture: A woman prays as people mourn at the memorial site created by neighbors in front of the partially collapsed building where the rescue personnel continue their search for victims, in Surfside near Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

11th victim recovered from rubble of Miami tower collapse - mayor

Another body was recovered on Monday from the rubble of a collapsed Florida condominium tower, the county mayor said, bringing the death toll to 11.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 150 people remained missing as of Monday afternoon as searchers continued to comb through the ruins of the building for possible survivors.

Police have so far identified eight of the victims, including a couple married for nearly 60 years and a mother whose teenage son is one of the few known survivors.

The cause of the collapse at the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami, remained under investigation. Given the scores of those still missing, the disaster may end up as one of the deadliest non-deliberate structural failures in U.S. history.

What are the chances those stuck under the rubble can survive?

Jake Tapper of CNN reports on how long the victims of the Surfside condo collapse can survive. Today, 28 June,the death toll rose to ten but over 150 people remain missing. Tom Foreman says that it is not "impossible" that those stuck are still alive, but as time goes on it becomes more "improbable"

Miami-Dade PD announces that the identify of three of those lost in the tragic disaster have been confirmed.

How are those on Reddit trying to help figure out why the condo collapsed?

Vice News reports that visitors of the sub-reddit, R/CatastrophicFailures, are sharing information to try and figure out what happened with many "coalescing around one master thread that’s thousands of words long and has been updated 16 times with public documents, reputable news reports, architecture drawings, video footage, and other publicly available information." 

The reports highlight that while in some cases this sort of crowd sourcing can lead to disastrous outcomes as was the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing, these users are a applying a method of investigation known as "open source intelligence." According to Vice, this style "is very similar to the actual news coverage on the condo-tower collapse in such reputable outlets as the New York Times."

Full story

Live updates on Surfside building collapse: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the search and rescue efforts in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, following the collapse of a residential building in the Florida town on Thursday.

Eleven people have now been confirmed dead in the tragedy. A further 151 people remain unaccounted for, with 135 now accounted for.


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