China Daily

Fallen condo likely to be demolished


Florida officials are working on plans to tear down what is left of a partially collapsed oceanfront condominiu­m building, as the grim painstakin­g search for victims in the rubble was briefly suspended over safety concerns.

The confirmed death toll stands at 18, with 145 other people still missing and feared buried beneath tons of pulverized concrete, twisted metal and splintered lumber as the search stretched into its ninth day early on Friday. The 18 confirmed dead so far include two children aged four and 10.

After rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, officials said they had started planning for the likely demolition of the remaining structure even as searchers continue to comb the rubble pile beneath it.

Scott Nacheman, a Federal Emergency Management Agency structures specialist, said engineers are looking at different methods for the demolition, which would create a safer working environmen­t to allow more personnel on site and accelerate the pace of work.

He said it would likely be weeks before officials schedule the demolition.

The rescue work was halted early on Thursday after crews noticed widening cracks and up to 30 centimeter­s of movement in a large column.

The work stoppage had dimmed hopes for finding anyone alive in the debris a week after the building came down. Surfside Mayor Charles

It’s been more than six days from the collapsing. (The chances of finding any survivors are) low.”

Elad Edri, deputy commander of an Israeli search team

Burkett said the halt was worrisome since “minutes and hours matter, lives are at stake”.

The temporary halt on rescue operations unfolded on the same day that US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the devastated community.

After the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominiu­m fell on June 24, no one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse.

Joint rescue

The cave-in of the building has sparked a search-and-rescue effort involving engineers and specialist­s from across the United States and as far afield as Mexico and Israel.

Elad Edri, deputy commander of an Israeli search and rescue team, said rescuers had completed a map outlining bedrooms and other living spaces in the building where residents could be trapped.

Rescuers made it to an undergroun­d parking structure where it had been hoped they might discover people who had been trapped in cars, but found no one, Edri said.

“It’s been more than six days from the collapsing,” he cautioned, deeming the chances of finding any survivors “low”.

During a private meeting with family members of the victims, Biden drew on his own experience­s with grief to try to comfort them. Biden lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car crash, and lost an adult son decades later to brain cancer.

“I just wish there was something I could do to ease the pain,” he said in a video that was uploaded on Instagram by Jacqueline Patoka, a woman who was close to a couple and their daughter who are still missing.

The cause of the collapse is currently under investigat­ion. A 2018 engineerin­g report found that the building’s ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had major structural damage and needed extensive repairs. The report also found abundant cracking on concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.

Just two months before the building came down, the president of its board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural problems identified in the 2018 inspection had gotten significan­tly worse and that major repairs would cost at least $15.5 million. While bids for the repair work were in process, the building suddenly collapsed.

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