The shutdown, which began shortly after 2 a.m. local time, threatened to keep search teams out of the rubble heap for an indefinite period and to tarnish hopes of finding someone alive in the debris a week ago. after the fall of the tower. The rescue operations were called off the same day that US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the devastated community.
The collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South beachfront condominium has left at least 18 dead and 145 missing. Hundreds of search and rescue personnel painstakingly searched the rubble for potential signs of life, but no one has been rescued for the first few hours after the collapse.
“It’s life or death,” Biden said at a briefing. “We can do it, the simple fact that everyone does what needs to be done makes a difference. “
He noted the “pain, anxiety and suffering” that will lead to a need for psychological help in the days and months to come. “And so, we’re not going anywhere. “
Expansion in cracks observed
The president was later due to meet with first responders and family members of those affected by the collapse before making further remarks Thursday afternoon.
Rescue work was halted after crews noticed several expansions in the cracks they were monitoring. They also observed movement of six to twelve inches in a large column suspended from the structure “which could fall and damage the support columns” in the underground parking lot, said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky.
In addition, they noticed movement in the debris pile and slight movement in some concrete floor slabs which he said “could cause further failure of the building.”
Officials will work with structural engineers and other experts to “develop options” for continuing rescue operations, Cominsky said.
Biden’s visit “will have no impact on what happens at the site,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference.
“The search and rescue operation will continue as soon as it is safe to do so. The only reason for this break is concerns about the permanent structure, ”she said.
Efforts to keep looking
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said state engineers, firefighters and county officials were exploring options to fix structural issues.
“Obviously, we think that further research is very, very important,” DeSantis said, noting that the state “will provide whatever resources they need” to allow the research to continue.
Cominsky confirmed Thursday that workers attempted to rescue a woman shortly after the building collapsed when they heard a voice in the rubble.
“We were looking for a female voice (…) we heard it for several hours, and finally we no longer heard its voice”, he declared.
Cominsky said they kept looking. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had success on this,” he said.
No more victims recovered
Among the remains found on Wednesday were those of a mother and her two daughters, aged four and 10, a loss Cava called “too much to bear”.
Miami-Dade Police have identified the children as Lucia Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4, and their mother, Anaely Rodriguez, 42. The remains of the father, Marcus Guara, 52, were removed from the rubble on Saturday and identified on Monday.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation. A 2018 engineering report found that the pool deck on the building’s ground floor sat on a concrete slab that showed “major structural damage” and needed major repairs.
The report also found “extensive cracking” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.
Just two months before the building collapsed, the chairman of his board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural problems identified in the 2018 inspection had “worsened considerably” and that repairs were required. major would cost at least US $ 15.5 million.
While bids for the work were still pending, the building suddenly collapsed last Thursday.