• Residents were advised to close all doors, windows, and air intakes during the demolition
  • The death toll from the condo building collapse stands at 24, with 121 still missing
  • A 2020 presentation warned residents about the building's "poor drainage" design

Update at 5.12 a.m. ET: Officials have brought down the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South near Miami in a controlled demolition Sunday night in an effort to resume the search for 121 missing people. With this, rescuers can access new areas of the rubble to find survivors.

An AP report quoted Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava as saying after the demolition that crews “had been given the all-clear to resume their search-and-rescue mission.”

Original story: Officials in Miami-Dade County are set to demolish the remaining structure of the Champlain Towers amid concerns that part of the condominium was unstable. According to authorities, demolition of what’s left of the condo building is necessary to allow them to continue looking for survivors of the June 24 mishap safely.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Sunday evening that the demolition will take place between 10 p.m. Sunday and 3 a.m. Monday.

According to Cava, the demolition will be carried out through a method called “energetic felling” that “uses small, strategically placed explosives and relies on gravity to bring the building down in place.”

Police have urged residents living in the shelter-in-place zone to remain indoors and close all windows, doors, and air intakes to avoid inhaling particles and heavy dust.

“The demolition is confined to the immediate area around the building,” Mayor Cava said, according to CNBC. “However, there is dust and other particles that are an unavoidable byproduct of all types of demolition, and as a precautionary measure we’re urging residents in the immediate vicinity to stay indoors during the demolition.”

Search and rescue operations were paused and would resume two hours after the demolition is complete, the mayor said.

“Bringing the building down in a controlled manner is critical to expanding our scope of search as you know in the pile, and allowing us to search in the area closest to the building which has not been accessible to the teams given the grave risk to our first responders due to the instability of the building,” she added.

On Saturday, the death toll from the 12-story Champlain Towers partial collapse rose to 24, while 121 people still remain unaccounted for.

The cause of the collapse is still unknown. However, documents obtained by CNN showed that a series of presentations delivered in the fall and winter of 2020 warned residents about the “very poor drainage” design of the building’s garage.

“There is no waterproofing layer over the garage in the driveway or any area except the pool deck and planters. This has exposed the garage to water intrusion for 40 years. Where there is waterproofing, it has failed. Water has gotten underneath and caused additional damage to the concrete,” one of the presentations read.

It was unclear who delivered the presentations. However, several members of the condominium’s management were listed as point of contact.

Residents of the building also saw the building’s underground garage collapse just moments before the tower collapsed. Sara Nir, a resident, said she and a security guard heard a loud boom before seeing the garage collapse. She and her two children took off and ran out of the building before it collapsed.

In a separate account, Cassondra Stratton, a resident of a unit located on the fourth floor, called her husband, who was in Washington D.C., at around 1.30 a.m. and told him a sinkhole had opened where the pool used to be, her husband told the Miami Herald. Her line went dead after. The woman is now one of the 121 people unaccounted for.

Hurricane-related weather would be bad news for the town of Surfside, near Miami, where rescuers are trying to dig out a collapsed condo building in search of survivors and bodies
Hurricane-related weather would be bad news for the town of Surfside, near Miami, where rescuers are trying to dig out a collapsed condo building in search of survivors and bodies AFP / Giorgio Viera