Yesterday, a Miami residential building partially collapsed in the early hours of the morning. The Champlain Towers South, a 12-story condo building with 138 units, had about 55 of those units destroyed. Initially, 1 person was confirmed to have been killed while 51 were missing.
Today, both of those numbers have increased.
Officials have confirmed that 4 people have been confirmed as dead as search and rescue operations continue at the scene. Currently, searchers are looking for the whereabouts of 159 missing people. Immediately after the building collapsed, responders were able to rescue 37 people—35 from the part of the building that’s still standing and 2 that they pulled from the rubble.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett warned that, though rescuers are working hard, the results of the ongoing search might be disappointing for families.
"The building is literally pancaked, it has gone down, and I mean there's just feet in between stories where there were 10 feet," Burkett said to reporters. "That is heartbreaking because it doesn't mean to me that we're gonna be as successful as we would want to be to find people alive."
Currently, teams of 10 to 12 people are carefully sorting through the rubble with the assistance of rescue dogs. They’re working until they’re tired, and swapping position with other searchers as needed. Some reports indicate that rescuers are so devoted to looking for survivors that they’ve resisted taking breaks as needed.
According to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, 120 people from the condo complex have been accounted for. Officials have clarified that those are unaccounted for were not necessarily in the building at the time of the collapse. They’re asking for anyone who is associated with the building but was not present at the time of the disaster to call officials so they can adjust their numbers accordingly.
Were There Signs that The Miami Building Collapse Was Imminent?
According to Town Clerk Sandra N. McCready, the building’s inspection was in the process of completion but an inspection report had yet to be generated or submitted to officials. The inspection is required once a structure has stood for 40 years.
However, one local research paper might have found signs that the building was dangerous. Published in April of 2020, researchers from the Florida International University compared the gradual sinking of buildings in Norfolk, Virginia to buildings in Miami Beach. It found that the Champlain Tower sank into the ground at a rate of about two millimeters each year from 1993 to 1999.
“It was not that significant, we’ve seen much higher than that. But it stood out because most of the area was stable and showed no subsidence. This was a very localized area of subsidence,” professor Shimon Wdowinski told the Miami Herald. “We saw the movement in the 1990s. It’s not what you see today. You can extrapolate, maybe.”
Officials have made it clear that they’re not certain what caused this collapse yet, and they’ve repeated that an extensive investigation will follow search and rescue efforts.
“It’s less likely than a lightning strike,” Mayor Burkett said. “It just doesn’t happen. You don’t see buildings falling down in America.”
Our team will continue to follow updates to this story as the search for survivors continues.