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Tropical Storm Elsa Forces Officials to Halt Search in Florida Condo Collapse

Tropical Storm Elsa Forces Officials to Halt Search in Florida Condo Collapse

Search and rescue efforts at a partially collapsed South Florida condo will temporarily pause as officials prepare for the demolition of the building’s remaining units, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Saturday.

Nearly 55 of the 136 units pancaked to the ground in the early hours of June 24. At least 24 people have died and at least 124 remain unaccounted for following last week’s partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, located just north of Miami Beach.

Levine Cava did not provide a time for the planned demolition. Search and rescue will resume on safe sections of the site once officials are cleared to do so, she said.

Officials said earlier Saturday a crew could demolish the remaining units of Champlain Towers South as soon as Sunday, ahead of the approaching Tropical Storm Elsa. A crew could demolish remaining units of the partially collapsed South Florida condo building as soon as Sunday, officials said, racing against time as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches the state. Otherwise, the winds from the tropical storm, which might reach the area early next week, could topple the structure unsafely, officials said.

A controlled demolition would temporarily halt search and rescue operations in the rubble of the already-collapsed portions. But then searchers could resume work without fear of the standing portions coming down on them, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.

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Residents of Crestview Towers in North Miami Beach, a building about 5 miles away from the site of the collapse, were ordered to evacuate on Friday after an audit found it “structurally and electrically unsafe”.

The forecast path for Elsa is uncertain, but even if it’s centered well west of Surfside as currently predicted, strong winds could hit Surfside and southeastern Florida by Tuesday, forecasters say. The demolition timeline has not been finalized, as engineers still were at the site doing due diligence, Levine Cava said Saturday morning.

[This is a developing story, please check back for updates]
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