16 Dead and More Than 140 Still Missing a Week After Miami Tragedy
Last Thursday, a 12-story residential building in Miami partially collapsed. A week later, 16 people have been confirmed to be dead while rescuers continue a desperate but cautious search for those who have not been accounted for. As the search continues, questions about how it happened and who is responsible have emerged.
Approximately 55 apartments were destroyed when the building toppled, and 125 people have been rescued so far. Seven days later, efforts are ongoing to save any of the nearly 150 people who remain missing under the rubble.
Unfortunately, no survivors have been found since the morning of the tragedy. At the time of writing, it was reported that four more bodies were recovered, along with other human remains. They are still being identified so next of kin may be notified.
Rescue teams have been working non-stop since the collapse and have cleared the remaining structure of the building. Their efforts are now focused on finding the missing buried within the wreckage. As of Tuesday, crews had removed more than 3 million pounds of concrete.
Crews are equipped with helpful technology including underground sonar systems which can be used to help detect victims. However, ongoing concerns and spurts of inclement weather have slowed rescue attempts as conditions at the site are not ideal for the safety of the rescuers.
As the search extends into its seventh day, hope for finding more survivors grows dim. However, crews have discovered tunnels and air pockets which have allowed for a glimmer of optimism. Florida rescue teams have requested additional help in finding survivors.
Obvious structural damage and other concerns began in the 90s
A pool contractor who worked in the 40-year-old building reported to the Miami-Herald that “there was standing water all over the parking garage” only two days before the collapse. According to him, the water damage had caused large cracks in the concrete, and the structural damage was obviously dangerous.
According to William Espinosa, who oversaw the building’s maintenance staff from 1995 to 2000 and spoke to CBSMiami, seawater was a problem for the building then. “Any time that we had high tides away from the ordinary…we would have a lot of saltwater come in through the bottom of the of the foundation,” he said. “It would just go away after a while. And I would think, where does that water go?”
The combination of long-term exposure to both chemicals from the swimming pool and saltwater caused severe corrosion in the beams around the pool equipment room. It has not been determined how much this may have contributed to the collapse.
According to public records released on Friday, the building had major problems three years ago. Photos showed cracks and chunks of concrete missing from the building, described as “typical cracking.”
Lawsuits allege building had too much weight, not enough support
While the damage was apparent, a cause for the collapse has not been determined. However, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the condominium association citing “numerous complaints” of shaking in the building which was caused by construction nearby. Furthermore, signs of sinking in the land under the building were not addressed.
One lawsuit alleges weight was added to the top of the building without testing the structural integrity. An antennae or transmission device was fixed atop “without proper investigation as to the potential or likely impacts of such activity.” This was also done before beginning needed concrete restoration at the bottom of the building.
Many people have asked how such dangerous conditions could be allowed to remain, and some have pointed to Governor Ron DeSantis and his three-year “deregathon” as deserving of scrutiny.
The building association’s hired engineer has discounted any and all theories on why the building collapsed, saying it is too soon for definite answers. A grand jury will likely be convened to investigate the causes of the collapse and the future safety of residents.