Thursday, July 01, 2021
Remaining high-rise in danger of collapsing
Biden comforts bereaved in Florida
The rescuers have little hope of finding survivors in the rubble of the Florida skyscraper. Although almost 150 people are still missing, the salvage work is on hold because the rest of the building is also unstable. US President Biden calls for caution and comfort.
A week after the partial collapse of a twelve-story apartment building in the US state of Florida, President Joe Biden traveled to the scene of the accident. Biden met with officials in Surfside near Miami to find out about the current status of the rescue operation. Together with his wife Jill, he met rescue workers to thank them for their work. “What you are doing is incredible,” the president said at a meeting with search parties. The mission is dangerous and also very hard psychologically. He called on the helpers to be careful. Conversations with families who fear for the life of their loved ones or who have lost someone should take place in camera.
Shortly before Biden’s arrival, the search for people buried had to be temporarily stopped due to concerns about the stability of the part of the building that was still standing. The authorities stressed that the break had nothing to do with the president’s visit. The mayor of the Miami-Dade district, Daniella Levine Cava, said that the search work had been interrupted in the early hours of the morning due to the risk of collapse of the part of the building that was still standing. The head of the local fire department, Alan Cominsky, explained that experts who continuously monitored the condition of the standing part of the building had observed changes that would have made the stop necessary. The security of the search parties must be guaranteed. The search will continue immediately as soon as it is certain.
The building with around 130 residential units partially collapsed last week on Thursday night. The misfortune surprised people in their sleep. Since then, the desperate search for victims has been going on. Several hundred rescuers have been on duty around the clock in the past few days – with sniffer dogs, special cameras, listening instruments and heavy equipment. Almost 150 people are still missing.
Only dark news
Shortly after the partial collapse of the large residential complex, emergency teams were initially able to save several dozen people. In the past few days, however, the authorities have only announced gloomy news. The number of fatalities recovered from the rubble has risen steadily and is now at 18. On Wednesday alone, local authorities had reported the find of six more fatalities – including two children aged four and ten. Levine Cava complained that any loss of life was a tragedy, but the loss of children was “unbearable” and “terrible”. According to her, 145 people are still missing. It is therefore feared that the number of deaths is likely to increase significantly. The search parties have also found unidentified “human remains” in the rubble. To identify victims, DNA samples were collected from relatives of the residents.
The residential complex known as Champlain Towers South dates from the 1980s. The cause of the partial collapse is still unclear. In the past few days, an inspection report from 2018, written by an external company, had become public, in which experts had listed several defects – including major structural defects in the building’s concrete.
US media also reported on letters from the property management company, which warned of the need to renovate millions of euros with reference to structural risks. Investigators will investigate the question of whether the apparently due renovations were related to the collapse. The National Institute for Standards and Technology, which is subordinate to the US Department of Commerce, announced an investigation into the collapse. The head of the agency, James Olthoff, said on Wednesday evening (local time) that it could possibly take years before there were clear answers. “But we won’t stop until we determine the likely cause of this tragedy.”