Search and rescue efforts continued through the weekend in Surfside, Florida after a residential building partially collapsed early Thursday. As of right now, there are twelve confirmed deaths, and 149 people still unaccounted for.
Search and rescue efforts are set to continue throughout the week, with more than 800 responders from 60 agencies working diligently, as stated by Miami-Dade Deputy Incident Commander Charles Cyrille. Officials have also confirmed more than 440 state workers on the ground assisting with the search efforts.
The cause of the collapse is still unknown, and according to Allyn Kilsheimer, the structural engineer hired by the town of Surfside, the investigation could take months, or even longer. “Unless it’s a plane or a bomb that you know triggered this whole thing, sometimes you can’t get it down to one cause,” he said. “You don’t know what you’re going to end up with until you finish the whole study.” However, warnings about Champlain Towers South have been around for years. A study from 2018 showed there were signs of structural damage to the foundation below the pool deck and “cracking and spalling” in the parking garage.
In April, a letter went out from the board president of Champlain Towers South to the residents that stated the condition of the building had gotten worse since the 2018 inspection. “The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated,” the letter reads. In the wake of the collapse, 507 older buildings in Miami Beach will be visited by structural engineers, Miami Beach City Manager Alina Hudak said to WPLG.
Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cave announced she would support the State Attorney’s Office opening an investigation into the collapse of Champlain Towers South involving a grand jury. “The grand jury can choose to investigate anything it chooses. In this case it would be the matter of this building collapse, and what is contributed, and what should be done.” It remains unclear if the issue will fall upon the sitting grand jury, or the next one that is seated.
It was also announced Tuesday that President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden would be visiting the site of the collapse on Thursday. His goal is to provide comfort to families and thank first responders, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “They want to thank the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone that has been working tirelessly around the clock, and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting, and anguish for word of their loved ones — to offer them comfort as search and rescue efforts continue,” Psaki told press while on Air Force One Tuesday.