Engineer already pointed out damage to collapsed Florida building in 2018, residents angry about rescue operation | Abroad

Three years before the Champlain Towers South apartment complex near Miami collapsed Thursday night, an engineer warned of “major structural damage” to the building. That reports The New York Times. The damage is believed to have been caused by years of exposure to the salty sea air along the coast of South Florida. After the shock and sadness, there is now also anger among the relatives and residents of the collapsed flat.

Bob van Huet

Latest update:
27-06-21, 10:36

Engineer Frank Morabitoa warned, among other things, of damage to the concrete foundation under the pool and an abundance of cracks and crumbling of the pillars, beams and walls of the parking garage beneath the 13-storey complex. That is according to the newspaper in a report that it has seen. the engineer then urged the building’s management to make quick repairs.

In the night from Wednesday to Thursday, just before the previously advised repairs were to take place, the apartment building collapsed. Since then, five bodies have been found among the rubble. 156 people are still missing.

A relative walks past a memorial site for missing apartment residents. © EPA

Investigators have not yet been able to determine the cause of the collapse, partly because they do not yet have full access to the crash site, where rescue teams are still searching for survivors. Experts expect the investigation into the cause of the collapse could take months. The rescue operation is still in full swing two days after the disaster.

Surgical Precision

The hundreds of rescuers must, according to The Washington Post work extremely carefully. Putting out fires or even moving rubble can lead to new shifts in the remains of the residential building. That could end badly for people who may still be trapped. Rescuers managed to rescue 35 people who were relatively easy to reach. The search now focuses on finding people deeper under the concrete and metal.

The quest is not only a race against time, but also a battle against the elements. The rescuers first stood in the blazing sun on Friday and then had to deal with heavy rain showers. As a result, measures were needed to prevent parts of the disaster site from being flooded.

“This is not a rescue operation,” says neighbor Maurice Wachsmann from his balcony to the French news agency AFP. His best friend, Chaim Rosenberg, and his son and daughter-in-law are also missing. He looks at the great pile of rubble of Champlain Towers, once a twelve-storey building in the Surfside neighborhood. His friends and neighbors lived there until Thursday. According to Wachsman, much more could have been done to save people, despite large equipment now being deployed to search the rubble. It is all not enough, say more directly involved. They also want answers to the question of how this could have happened.

Local authorities report deploying hundreds of firefighters and rescue workers to find survivors among the rubble of Champlain Towers. Detection dogs, drones and sonars are also used. Specifically, a search is made for possible spaces that have not completely collapsed and where possible there is still oxygen for any survivors.

Rescue teams searched the stacked concrete last night. In a basement, walls were pierced in the hope of finding survivors. This did not yield much, to the anger of many relatives. More than thirty people are said to have come from South and Latin America among the 156 missing. According to CNN, they are one Chilean, nine Argentinians, six Paraguayans, six Colombians, six Venezuelans and three Uruguayans.


We are told there are hundreds of rescue workers, but this is not a rescue operation

Maurice Wachsmann

World Trade Centre

Many witnesses compare the images of the collapsing residential towers with the collapse of the World Trade Center towers during the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York. “The building has been destroyed. There is rubble everywhere,” a shocked witness told CNN.

The authorities keep trying to explain what they are doing. “We provide information to the families twice a day with full details of the rescue operations,” Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said last night. There was certainly hope, she said. Fire chiefs think so too. In comparable disasters after earthquakes, people were sometimes pulled from the rubble alive a week later.

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Firefighters search the rubble.
Firefighters search the rubble. © AP


According to a 2020 study, a ‘very minor sag’ had been found in the building in the 1990s. The newspaper USA Today know that the building collapsed two millimeters annually between 1993 and 1999. How that came about was never clear. According to an accomplished engineer, the collapse of such a building is not such a problem ‘as long as it happens evenly and across the board’. But if one part of a building sags more than another, it can cause stress and cracks. A lawyer for the building’s operator said it was too early to draw any conclusions. There have been regular building inspections in recent months. This is required by law because the building was delivered 40 years ago. “Nothing has come to light during the inspections,” said the lawyer.

This week there was work on the building, but that was reportedly minor repairs to the roof. According to the mayor of the Surfside neighborhood, that roof work could never have had this devastating effect. “It literally looked like someone was pulling the foundation away or it was being washed away,” Mayor Charles Burkett said.


I’m lucky I made it, but I want answers. The families of the victims deserve it, and someone should be held accountable if there is negligence

Janette Aguero


Janette Aguero (46) stayed the night of the tragedy with her husband and two children on the eleventh floor of the building, facing the street. She was awakened by what felt like “an earthquake”. She and her family managed to run down the stairs to escape.

In the days before the disaster, she had heard “cracking and strange noises” several times while construction work was underway on the building. “Did the building try to warn us of what was to come? I’m lucky I made it, but I want answers. The families of the victims deserve it, and someone should be held accountable if there is negligence. Someone has to pay.”

In addition to the dead, injured and missing, there are also dozens of homeless people. The American Red Cross has arranged emergency shelters for them in surrounding hotels. The local newspaper Miami Herald This morning published a database of names and photos of missing persons.

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