Surfside condominium building collapse

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Surfside condominium building collapse
Surfside condominium collapse photo from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue 1.jpg
Aftermath of the collapse of part of Champlain Towers South
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DateJune 24, 2021 (2021-06-24)
TimeApproximately 1:30 a.m. EDT[lower-alpha 1] (UTC−4)
Location
CoordinatesLua error in Module:Coordinates at line 492: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
CauseUnder investigation
Deaths11 (confirmed)
Non-fatal injuries11
Missing150

On June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:30 a.m. EDT,[lower-alpha 1] Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, United States, partially collapsed. At least eleven people were killed and eleven others injured as a result of the collapse.[2][3][4][5][1] About 35 people were rescued from the uncollapsed portion of the building,[6] two people have been rescued from the rubble,[7] and 150 people remain missing as rescue operations continue.[8][9][10][11]

Background

The residential building, Champlain Towers South, is located at 8777 Collins Avenue (Florida State Road A1A). It was built in 1981 by a group of developers, Champlain Towers South Associates,[12] and is part of a complex along with two other buildings, one built at the same time and called Champlain Towers North, and the other built between the North and South buildings in 1994 and called Champlain Towers East.[13] All three are L-shaped structures with 12 stories, but as of 2021 the South building contained the most units at 136.[14] The buildings are just north of North Beach Oceanside Park, which is located in Miami Beach's North Beach neighborhood.[15]

The project was the first new construction in Surfside following a moratorium on new development imposed by Miami-Dade County due to water and sewer infrastructure problems in Surfside during the 1970s. The developers paid the city $200,000 in 1979 to fund the replacement of the sewer system and secure approval for the construction of the condos.[12]

Collapse

External video
video icon Video shows South Florida building collapse, by Fox 13 Tampa Bay
Firefighters from the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department search for survivors, June 24

The Champlain Towers South building suffered a partial pancake collapse at about 1:30 a.m. EDT[lower-alpha 1] on June 24, 2021.[1][16][8] Surveillance footage indicates that a large north-central section of the building collapsed first, which isolated a section at the northeast corner of the building; it collapsed approximately nine seconds later.[17][18] Of the 136 units in the building, made up of one- to four-bedroom plans ranging in size from 1,200 to 4,500 sq ft (110 to 420 m2),[19] 55 were destroyed in the collapse.[3]

Possible causes

According to Surfside town commissioner Eliana Salzhauer, at the time of the disaster, the building was undergoing inspection for its 40-year recertification, which typically takes one year to complete.[20] According to Surfside mayor Charles Burkett, roof repairs were being performed on the building.[21]

According to Florida International University research analyzing publicly available European Remote-Sensing Satellite data, the building had been sinking since the 1990s at a significant rate of about 2 millimeters (0.08 in) per year. While 97 percent of Miami Beach had been stable, 1,555 of 18,949 points in Miami Beach had been sinking, at a rate of less than 1 millimeter (0.04 in) per year.[22] Usually, however, the research noted, a building collapse due to sinking is likely only if one part of a building is sinking at a faster rate than another; this creates tensions that, in turn, weaken the building's structure. The research also noted overbuilt areas that were sinking at a significantly faster rate, such as on the artificial islands in Biscayne Bay – up to 3.8 millimeters (0.15 in) per year.[23][24][25][26]

In 2018, an inspection performed by the engineering firm Morabito Consultants showed a "major error" in the construction of the pool deck, whereby the waterproofing was not sloped and that water collected on the waterproofing until it could evaporate. Over the years, the concrete slabs below the pool deck had been severely damaged by the collected water. The report noted the waterproofing below the pool deck was beyond its useful life and must all be completely removed and replaced. The firm wrote that "failure to replace waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially", and that the repair would be "extremely expensive". The ceiling slabs of the parking garage, which sat below the pool deck, showed several sizable hairline cracks and cases of exposed rebar.[27] While roof repairs pursuant to the consultant’s report were underway at the time of the collapse, the recommended concrete restoration repairs had not begun.[28]

On June 27, the Miami Herald newspaper reported on the consensus of six engineering experts it interviewed. Based on publicly available evidence, the experts believed that a structural column or concrete slab beneath the pool deck likely gave way, causing the deck to collapse into the garage below. This formed a crater beneath the bulky midsection of the tower, which then caved in on itself.[29] Among the evidence supporting this conclusion was the report that moments before the building collapsed, a resident of a fourth-floor unit called her husband to tell him that a crater had appeared in the pool deck. At the time the story was published, the resident was among those missing in the collapse.[29]

On June 28, The New York Times reported that the secretary of the resident-led association that managed Champlain Towers South contacted the town building department in early 2019[30] due to resident concerns that their building's structural integrity was affected by the construction next door at the Eighty Seven Park condo development. The project broke ground in early 2016[31] and was completed in late 2019.[32] No known engineering records suggest a connection between Eighty Seven Park construction and any damage at Champlain Towers.[30]

Late in the afternoon of June 28, the Miami Herald published images it said had been shared with the paper by an anonymous pool contractor, who claimed that they showed portions of the pool equipment room, located under the pool in the underground garage, as they appeared just 36 hours before the collapse. According to the contractor, the images showed standing water, cracking concrete and severely corroded rebar under the pool.[33]

Casualties

As of June 28, 2021, eleven people are known to have died during the collapse, and eleven more have been injured.[34] Eight victims have been publicly identified, including two Venezuelan nationals.[35][36] As many as 150 people remain unaccounted for.[8][9][37][11]

At least 29 people from South America who resided in or were believed to be in the building at the time of the collapse are among the missing.[34] Paraguay's Ministry of Foreign Relations stated that the First Lady Silvana López Moreira's sister, her sister's husband, and their three children are missing.[38][39] Another Paraguayan citizen is also missing.[40] A first cousin of Chilean Air Force general Alberto Bachelet is believed to be missing, according to his daughter.[41] The other missing people were identified as nine citizens from Argentina, four from Venezuela, six from Colombia[42] and three from Uruguay.[43]

On June 25, Israel's consul general in Miami said that he believed 20 Israeli citizens are among the missing.[44] On June 27, Global Affairs Canada announced that, based on "preliminary reports", four Canadians from three different families were believed to be among the missing, having previously said only that four Canadians "may be affected", citing privacy laws.[45]

One dual American and British citizen is missing in the building collapse, as confirmed by her family and the British consulate.[46]

Casualties by nationality
Country Missing Deaths Injured
 United States (or unknown) 99 9 11
 Israel 20[44]
 Argentina 9[42]
 Colombia 6[42]
 Paraguay 6[40]
 Venezuela 2[42] 2[35]
 Canada 4[45]
 Uruguay 3[43]
 Chile 1[41]
 United Kingdom 1[46]
Total 150 11 11

Response

Rescue and relief operations

Rescuers with a search and rescue dog search for survivors, June 24

More than 80 rescue units responded to the collapse, according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department.[47] Surfside mayor Charles Burkett said in a news conference that ten people were treated at the scene of the collapse and that two people were taken to the hospital, with one later dying.[48] At least 35 people were rescued from the building on June 24[6] and as many as 159 people were unaccounted for.[8][9] Miami-Dade County mayor Daniella Levine Cava signed a state of emergency declaration at 4:33 p.m. on June 24[49] and called on Florida governor Ron DeSantis to do so at the state level.[50] Governor DeSantis viewed the site on the same day,[51] and issued a state of emergency.[52] The White House and Federal Emergency Management Agency stated that they were in contact with local officials and providing assistance after the collapse.[53] President Joe Biden was briefed on the event, and spoke with Miami-Dade County mayor Cava.[54][55]

On June 24, two FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task Force 1 based out of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task Force 2 based out of the Miami Fire-Rescue Department, were activated to respond to the incident.[56][57] An additional three teams in Ohio and Virginia were put on alert to standby to assist.[58]

On June 26, state officials announced that THOR, a 1,000 square foot (93 m2) mobile command center, was being deployed from Escambia County, Florida, to help coordinate search and rescue and recovery teams and operations.[59] THOR, which includes cellular, satellite, and VOIP wireless systems and UHF and VHF radio systems, as well as built-in generators, will be deployed for at least 10 days.[60]

In a news conference on June 26, Mayor Cava indicated that a fire deep within the rubble, and subsequent smoke, were impeding the ability of fire and rescue personnel to search for survivors. She indicated that the fire "spread laterally throughout the pile" making it difficult to isolate the source.[61] Officials said rescue workers were also working in the tower's underground parking garage, where there was heavy damage, under constantly changing conditions.[13] Cava advised that "No further victims have been found, as you've heard. The numbers are the same as they were yesterday; 127 have been accounted for... One hundred and fifty-nine unaccounted for. Four confirmed dead."[62] Later that afternoon, the official toll was revised without elaboration to five dead and 156 missing.[11]

On June 26, Surfside mayor Burkett advised residents of the Champlain Towers North building, located about 500 feet (150 m) north of the fallen structure, to evacuate with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance "pending a thorough structural investigation", noting that the North and South buildings were constructed by the same developer at about the same time, and likely using similar plans and materials.[63] However, Burkett did not immediately order the evacuation of the building or declare it unsafe.[64] By late afternoon, voluntary evacuations were occurring at both Champlain Tower North and Champlain Tower East.[65]

On June 27, FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell announced that the US Army Corps of Engineers, which has significant experience with complex construction, demolition, stabilization, and forensic engineering projects, is providing assistance with rescue and recovery efforts at the site.[66]

On the evening of June 27, Mayor Cava advised that nine people had been confirmed dead and 152 were missing. Names of an additional four victims were released later that night, leaving only one of those confirmed dead not publicly identified. Two of the victims named were Venezuelan nationals.[67]

At a news conference in the morning of June 28, Mayor Cava announced that an additional fatality had been confirmed, bringing the number of dead to 10, with 151 people still missing. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah stressed that, despite the operation entering its fifth day, the effort is still focused on the search for and potential rescue of survivors rather than shifting to recovery.[68] In the afternoon, Cava announced that an eleventh body had been found, reducing the number of missing to 150. Two of the dead remained unidentified.[69]

International response

On June 24, Israel offered clothes, medication, food, water, and other aid to the victims of the collapse. At least 35 of the missing were Jewish, but it was not yet clear whether any were Israeli citizens, according to Israeli consul general Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, who came to the scene and conveyed an official offer from the Israeli government to send the Israel Defense Force's Home Front Command search and rescue team to assist in the rescue efforts. The Command has assisted in many other disasters, such as the 2017 Puebla earthquake, 2010 Haitian earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan.[70] Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid offered condolences and support.[71]

On June 25, Mayor Cava said that people from Israel as well as Mexico have joined in the search and rescue effort. Workers from both countries rotate in and out as work teams sift through the rubble in two daily 12-hour shifts.[72]

Other organizations

The National Basketball Association's Miami Heat staff handed out water and snacks to state emergency workers at the site of the collapse. World Central Kitchen and Direct Relief, both of whom are recipients of funds from the Heat's charitable arm, were also lending help.[73] American Red Cross volunteers assisted people displaced by the collapse.[74]

Aftermath

On June 24, 2021, a lawsuit was filed by a resident of the building against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, seeking $5 million in damages "due to defendant's acts and omissions and their failure to properly protect the lives and property of plaintiff and class members".[75]

Scientists and engineers from the federal National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) arrived at the site on June 25 under the authority of the National Construction Safety Team Act. Staff of the agency will decide whether NIST should launch a full investigation into the collapse and will otherwise help begin the local investigation into the causes of the disaster.[76]

On June 26, Mayor Cava ordered an "immediate audit" in Miami-Dade County of all high-rise buildings older than 40 years and taller than five stories, as well as all those built by the developer of the Champlain Towers condominium complex, to be completed within the next 30 days.[65] The editorial board of the Miami Herald called for a grand jury investigation of the collapse. Miami-Dade County state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told the board, "Historically, this is the sort of thing grand jurors look at."[77]

The town of Surfside announced on June 27 that it had contracted with Allyn Kilsheimer, founder and chief executive of KCE Structural Engineers, to study the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South, assess the condition of adjacent and similar buildings, and provide geotechnical and original-design evaluations. The firm was involved in the forensic analysis of the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon during 9/11 and the Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse in 2018.[78] Surfside mayor Charles Burkett said that the town government would locate every document, including all correspondence sent or received, related to the Champlain Towers South building and post it on its web site in the interest of public transparency.[79]

See also

References

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Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Miami Herald has reported in its timeline of the collapse[1] that the first call to emergency services was received at 1:23 a.m. EDT, indicating that the structure fell shortly before this time. However, the vast majority of sources, including Herald reporters, continue to describe the event as occurring "around 1:30 a.m. EDT".

External links