August 1, 2021

At least nine dead in Florida building collapse

The death toll from a dramatic building collapse near Miami, Florida rose from five to nine, authorities said Sunday (June 27th). The helpers continued to search, night and day, more than 150 people still missing. Israeli and Mexican rescuers arrived to reinforce American rescuers, but, more than eighty hours after the disaster, the hope of finding survivors was gradually waning.

A trench, “Crucial in the pursuit of research”, was dug from the ruins, Miami-Dade County Chief Executive Daniella Levine Cava reported at a press conference on Sunday. It is now 38 meters long, 6 meters wide and 12 meters deep, she said.

With this strategy, “We were able to find four more bodies in the rubble, as well as additional human remains”said Mme Levine Cava. The previous report reported five dead and 156 missing. “We have all the resources we need for this job”, she assured, speaking of “Hundreds” first aid workers mobilized to ensure rotations.

“A lack of luck”

Operations continued overnight Saturday through Sunday in Surfside, in the southeastern United States, where two large cranes are used to carefully remove debris. But the emergency services are faced with the difficult trade-off between delicate research, favoring acoustics and the maintenance of possible air pockets, and those using large mechanical devices to clear the rubble, more likely to cause the road to collapse. mountain of rubble.

“There is real progress. We have waves of rescue teams that abound on the site »Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Sunday morning on ABC. Rescuers from Mexico are on hand to help, he said. “We don’t have a lack of resources, we are unlucky. We must have more luck ”, he said.

Members of the Israeli rescue team gather as they arrive in the area near the partially collapsed building in the town of Surfside, Fla., Sunday, June 27, 2021.

A team of ten Israeli specialist rescuers arrived on Sunday and went directly to the scene after their plane landed. “She is one of the best, if not the best, and most experienced of the Israeli rescue teams. They have already traveled across the world in similar situations ”Nachman Shai, Israeli minister responsible for issues related to the Jewish diaspora, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Fire under control

The town of Surfside is home to a large Jewish community. The building was also home to many foreigners: including nine Argentines, three Uruguayans, six Paraguayans, including the sister of the first lady of Paraguay, and at least four Canadians, according to authorities.

The research had so far been complicated by a fire, the smoke of which had made certain areas inaccessible. But the fire was finally brought under control on Saturday noon. Four victims have already been identified, local police said on Saturday evening, who released their names along with their apartment number. Gladys and Antonio Lozano, 79 and 83 respectively, are among them. They lived in the same accommodation. The other two identified were both 54 years old, one of whom, Stacie Fang, was the mother of a 15-year-old boy rescued from the rubble on Thursday morning, according to the Miami Herald.

Members of the search and rescue team search for possible survivors in the partially collapsed twelve-story building June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

A makeshift memorial installed on the fence of the rescuers’ base camp has been installed. Around the photos of the wanted persons, bouquets of flowers were hung and candles were placed on the ground. “We see the smoke in the distance, and here the faces of the missing, they are now unforgettable”, commented to AFP Olivia Ostrow, a Frenchwoman living for twenty years in this small town north of Miami Beach.

“My heart is bleeding for the people of Surfside”, a the country’s president Joe Biden tweeted on Saturday, promising all federal assistance required.

Months of investigation

Before dawn Thursday, the twelve floors of this oceanfront complex, named Champlain Towers, collapsed. The drama affected around fifty-five apartments. The questions about the origin of this tragedy are becoming more and more pressing. A resident of the building has already launched a collective action, according to the NBC media, in order to obtain compensation for the victims.

Several old expert reports on the building have resurfaced, including one dating from 2018, which had revealed “Major structural damage”, as well as « fissures » in the concrete columns of the building’s basement, according to documents released Friday night by the City of Surfside.

The expert author of this study then recommended work ” in the near future “, not to mention the risk of collapse. The investigation will likely last for months.

The World with AFP