Search And Rescue Continues Following Demolition Of Surfside Condo Building

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Jul 05, 2021 - 02:10 PM

Update (Monday 1410 ET): Rescuers began searching for survivors of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, FLA., after the remaining structure was demolished late Sunday night. 

Three bodies were recovered Monday after search efforts resumed, bringing the death toll to 27. There are still 118 people unaccounted for since part of the condo collapsed on June 24.

The demolition was planned and ahead of the approaching storm, Elsa. 

With the threat of Else looming, local and state officials, along with rescue crews, were worried about the safety of the building and made the decision last night to demo the remaining structure. 

"It appears as though the approaching storm may have been a blessing in disguise for us in that it initiated the demolition discussion," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Sunday night.

"We want to make sure that we control which way the building falls and not a hurricane, so all of this together I think ended up being a good thing," Burkett said. 

Miami-Dade County mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, told NBC Monday, "We understand that families realize the fact that time has gone by, they realize that the chances are growing all dimmer." 

Rescue crews could be seen combing through debris Monday alongside cranes to lift concrete and steel. 

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Update (Monday 0616 ET): Around 2230 ET Sunday, the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, FLA., was demolished ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa's arrival late Monday night into Tuesday. 

Video: Champlain South Demo 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told CNN during a Sunday night press conference that once the area is safe, search and rescue teams will resume. 

As of Sunday, the death toll sits at 24, according to the mayor. At least 191 people have been accounted for, but 121 remain missing. 

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Ten days after the condo building in Surfside, FLA. collapsed, search-and-rescue efforts have been suspended as officials prepare to demo the rest of the building ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa

According to AP News, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava halted search-and-rescue efforts around 1600 ET Saturday as demolition crews were preparing to demolish the portion of Champlain Towers South still standing. 

"Search and rescue does have to pause while the demolition preparation is underway," Cava said at a news conference. "Preparation includes actions like drilling into columns in the unsafe structure."

"It has been determined by our engineers and our fire department in constant communication with the demolition team as the process is underway, that we need to put a temporary pause," she said. 

"We will begin the search and rescue once again on any sections of the pile that are safe to access as soon as we are cleared," she added.

Plans for demolition of the upright portion of Champlain South were accelerated in the last 48 hours as weather models forecast Tropical Storm Elsa could impact South Florida early next week. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, "We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering, it is structurally unsound. If the building is taken down this will protect our search and rescue teams."

"If the building is taken down, this will protect our search and rescue teams, because we don't know when it could fall over," DeSantis said. "And, of course, with these gusts, potentially that would create a really severe hazard."

Cava also declared a local state of emergency as Elsa moved west-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm's center is about 85 mph east of Kingston, Jamaica. 

There remains a lot of uncertainty about the storm's trajectory after it tracks across central and western Cuba on Monday, then moves near the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Local and state officials are taking no chances and are set to demolish the remaining portion of the condo building before the storm hits. 

As of Sunday, the death toll sits at 24, according to the mayor. At least 191 people have been accounted for, but 121 remain missing.