Officials hope that the demolition of the Champlain Towers South building Sunday night will make it safer for rescue teams to search more effectively with fewer reinforcements.
Around 10:30 p.m., the structure was torn down. ET Sunday used a method Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava described as “energetic falling,” which relies on gravity to bring down the structure.
After a portion of the building collapsed early on June 24, causing the demolition of approximately 55 of its 136 units. Crews began immediately digging through concrete up to 16 feet high and confirmed that at least 24 people, including children, were killed. There are still 121 unaccounted-for persons.
Officials and rescue crews became increasingly worried about the safety and stability of those who were searching the rubble for clues and the possibility that the entire structure might collapse under the threat of tropical Storm, Elsa.
“It seems as though the approaching hurricane may have been an inadvertent blessing for us in that we initiated the demolition discussion,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett stated Sunday night. “We want control over which way the building falls and not a hurricane. So all of this I believe ended up being a positive thing.”
Burkett stated that he hopes that the demolition will remove a potential danger to workers and open up an estimated third to search and rescue teams.
Around 4 p.m. Saturday, search efforts were stopped at the partially-collapsed building to allow engineers to secure it and prepare for demolition.
Levine Cava stated Sunday night that “as soon as we have the building down and the site is deemed safe, we will have our first response teams back on the pile to resume their work immediately.”
Col. Elad Elad Edri, the Deputy Commander of Israel’s National Rescue Unit, stated that the work will not resume without five to seven members of the Israeli rescue group. He added that the decision was based on the capabilities of the team after demolition.
Multiple buildings evacuated by residents
Multiple buildings in Miami were evacuated after the collapse.
According to a letter sent by the condo association’s board and obtained by Daily Reuters, Champlain Towers East suggested that residents evacuate ahead of the demolition of the South Tower.
Residents were urged to leave their homes as the demolition would cause congestion in nearby streets. Residents were also asked to bring their pets and valuables with them, such as passports and other important documents.
The letter states that “our building foundation has been checked multiple, but we make this recommendation in an abundance of caution.” “We don’t expect any impact to you, but you can’t overreact under these circumstances.”
According to Melissa Berthier, a spokesperson for the city, the evacuation of a Miami Beach residential building was ordered by the city on Saturday. This followed an inspection of the unit that flagged “flooring system failure” and “excessive deflection on an external wall.”
Officials from North Miami Beach ordered the evacuation of the Crestview Towers because the building had not been recertified for 40 years. Officials used the late certification report as evidence that the building was structurally, and electrically dangerous.
Champlain Towers South residents who didn’t lose their condos had to move without much of their belongings. They left behind clothing, valuables, and family photos.
Alfredo Ramirez III, Miami-Dade Police Chief, stated that homicide detectives have been “collecting items which are retrievable, and are logging them and documenting their findings.”