Search Efforts Resume at Miami Condo After Controlled Explosions Bring Down Rest of Building

Rescuers were given the all-clear to resume work looking for victims at a collapsed south Florida condo building after demolition crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the building’s remains in a plume of dust. Shortly after the demolition, cranes were again in motion at the site, suggesting that crews were back in place in the early hours of Monday to sift through the rubble from above and below.

Miami-Dade County’s mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, said the demolition at the Champlain Towers in Surfside, just north of Miami, went “exactly as planned” at about 10.30 pm on Sunday.  Crews immediately began clearing some of the new debris so rescuers could start making their way into parts of the underground garage that is of particular interest. The mayor expressed relief that the search for victims could continue; after being suspended on Saturday so workers could begin rigging the damaged but still-upright portion of the partly collapsed tower with explosives, any complications during the precarious operation could have caused the structure to fail.


Sadly, no one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse. On Sunday, Miami-Dade police identified David Epstein, 58, as one of the now 27 people known to have died in the fallen tower; his remains were recovered on Friday. Reports indicate 118 people are still missing. With the new areas cleared, firefighters will likely begin finding more victims at an accelerated pace.

The approach of Tropical Storm Elsa has added urgency to the demolition plans, with forecasts suggesting there could be strong winds in the area by late Monday. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida because of the storm, making federal aid possible.


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