Video from a nearby security camera shows what happened Thursday night last week: a large part of the complex, on the north side, is descending. Eight seconds later, another part collapses. Within eleven seconds, there is nothing but emptiness in a place where hundreds of people went to bed a few hours ago.
On Saturday, it appeared that an engineer had already warned three years ago of the discovery of “significant structural damage” to the property. Newspaper New York times Watch a report describing the extensive damage to the concrete foundation under the pond. The report also reports a large number of cracks and collapses in columns, beams and walls in the car park below the complex – damage likely caused by years of exposure to salty sea air.
At the time, architect Frank Morabita urged the building’s management to make quick repairs. A multi-million dollar refund has been developed and will be launched soon – after more than 2.5 years of warning from management.
Investigators to determine the cause of the disaster do not have full access to the site. Experts say it would take months to explore all possible scenarios: looking at individual building components now buried in rubble, testing concrete, and examining the ground to determine if there was another ditch or subsidence that might be related to the collapse.
Rescue teams meanwhile work on unstable mounds of concrete and steel still ablaze, hoping to find survivors. It is a delicate work to be done in the heat and in heavy rain. Heavy machinery carefully lifts large chunks of rubble to provide rescuers with new entrances into the rubble. Human remains have been found, but DNA tests are necessary to identify victims.
In the American media, the complex is called “the microcosm” of multicultural Miami. Among the missing are residents of several Latin American countries such as Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela and Paraguay (including the sister of that country’s first lady), as well as several Israelis. According to the residents, every December there was a Christmas tree and a menorah (seven-armed candelabra) in the hallway. “This was a model of the open-minded society in these towers,” said Rabbi Elliot Berelson of one of the five synagogues within walking distance of the building. Washington Post. Israel sent a search team of its military to Florida this weekend to help American rescuers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people are waiting for news of their loss in a center created for them. So far, four dead have been identified. Most people still don’t know if their fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters or friends who live in the 55 destroyed apartments are still alive.
The neighbors are also panicking. At an emergency city council meeting, officials said they were summoned by residents questioning whether their building was still safe, and called for further investigation of all apartment complexes in the area with more than six stories and 40 years old. Like a building that fell.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said there was no immediate evidence that other buildings were in danger, but that people were being considered for evacuation from surrounding compounds – although many residents chose to leave on their own.
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