Experts prepare to demolish the rest of a collapsed Florida condo

SURFSIDE, Fla – Demolition specialists dug holes for the explosive charges on Sunday as they prepared to bring down the precarious but still standing portion of a collapsed South Florida condominium. The work suspended the search and rescue mission, but officials said it would eventually open up new areas for rescue teams to explore.

The decision to demolish the Surfside building came after concerns arose that the damaged structure could fall, endangering the crews below and preventing them from operating in certain areas.

“Our top priority is for the building to collapse as quickly as possible, regardless of the time and as safe as possible,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a conference on Sunday. Press. “Bringing down this building in a controlled manner is critical to expanding the reach of our search and rescue efforts. “

Eighty percent of the drilling was completed by Sunday morning and the remaining structure could collapse as early as later that night, Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told relatives of those missing in the area. ‘collapse.

This schedule – faster than expected, although still uncertain – drew applause from families eager to restart research. No one has been saved alive since the first hours after the June 24 collapse.

The search of the Surfside building has been suspended since Saturday afternoon so workers can begin drilling work. Jadallah said the suspension was necessary because drilling could cause the structure to fail, but a family member could be heard calling the news “devastating.”

So far, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, 121 of whom are still missing. The Miami-Dade Police Department added Graciela Cattarossi, 48, and Gonzalo Torre, 81, to the list of those who died on Saturday night.

Once the structure is demolished, the remains will be immediately removed in an effort to allow rescuers to gain access for the first time to parts of the garage that are a center of interest, Jadallah said. This could give a clearer picture of the voids that may exist in the rubble and could potentially shelter survivors.

Authorities began considering demolition of the Champlain Towers on Thursday when parts of the remaining building were moved, putting rescuers in danger and resulting in a 15-hour suspension from their work.

The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa added urgency to those plans with forecasts suggesting strong winds could enter the region by Monday. The latest forecast has shifted the storm west, mostly sparing southern Florida, but National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Molleda said the area could still feel effects as of Monday.

“We expect mainly tropical storm gusts,” Molleda said, referring to gusts above 40 miles per hour (64 km / h).

The detonation will aim to bring the remaining part of the building down and to the side of the street, away from the existing pile of debris, Jadallah said. Search and rescue efforts are expected to resume between 15 and 60 minutes after the structure is destroyed, he said.

The method of demolition is called “energy blasting,” which uses small detonation devices and relies on the force of gravity. Levine Cava said this puts the building in place, containing the collapse in the immediate vicinity.

No one will be allowed in the buildings immediately north and south of the collapsed structure. Levine Cava advised other nearby residents to stay indoors during the demolition and to close windows, doors and any other openings that may let in dust.

Several officials acknowledged that the tragedy continued to unfold over the July 4 vacation.

“It’s not an independence day like we’ve never experienced before,” said Levine Cava.

But she added: “Patriotism is not just about loyalty to the country. It’s about loyalty to one another – to our communities, to those in need whose names or stories we may never know, but to whom we are bound by compassion and resilience.

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