Death toll from collapsed Florida building rises to 94

Rescuers have moved so much rubble that they can now see cars in the underground car park

The death toll from the collapse of an apartment building in southern Florida rose to 94 on Monday after the discovery of more bodies in the wreckage of twisted steel and concrete at the beachfront site.

Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County Mayor, announced the latest tally on Monday, saying 83 of the victims had been identified.

Champlain Towers South, a 12-story condominium building erected in 1981 in Surfside, a town north of Miami Beach, came crashing down in the early hours of June 24 as dozens of residents slept inside.

No survivors have been rescued from the ruins since the first few hours after the building’s collapse.

Last week, officials said they had switched their efforts from rescuing survivors to recovery.

Workers have removed more than 6,000 tonnes of concrete and debris from the site, Ms Levine Cava told reporters.

The pile of rubble once stood at more than four stories high. It has now been reduced to below ground level at some parts.

Rescue teams can see cars in the building's underground garage, officials said.

The remains of the building were brought down in a controlled explosion to allow recovery work to proceed.

Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky said rescue teams were working painstakingly round the clock.

“It’s still a methodical process … they’re hand-digging. It’s a slow process,” he said.

Israeli rescuers taking part in the operation were expected to head home on Sunday, added Ms Levine Cava.

Multiple investigations are under way to determine the cause of the collapse.

A report from city officials in 2018 found “major structural damage” in the complex, from the concrete slab under the pool deck to columns and beams in the garage.

One theory is that the saltwater ubiquitous in the area, which is subject to flooding during high tides, intruded into concrete supports, corroding the steel-reinforcing rebar inside and weakening the concrete.

Much focus is on ocean water, which is rising in South Florida and elsewhere because of climate change.

The collapse has prompted reviews of nearby buildings.

Residents of the Crestview Towers condominium were last week told to leave after engineers found serious concrete and electrical problems.

Tests of Champlain Towers North, a nearby sister building of the doomed condominium from the same era, have found that its concrete was sufficiently strong, officials said.

Updated: July 12th 2021, 5:09 PM
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