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(MIAMI) FEATURED: Surfside Building Collapse Report: As the number of dead bodies recovered from the building rises to nine still around 150 people remain missing and investigations into what was the cause of this collapse #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.29: The death toll following the tragic collapse of an apartment building in Miami, Florida, has climbed to nine, after four bodies were found overnight and a victim rescued several days ago died in hospital.

#AceDailyNews our report here the other day confirms details of the collapse of the Miami building and on Monday night death toll rises to nine as rescue teams keep working ‘non-stop’ to find anyone else trapped and an investigation into the cause of the disaster with many things known three years beforehand with an inspection in 2018 highlighting “a major error” in the original design of an apartment block

Kindness & LoveX❤️ says 🙏’s for any of the family who lost loved ones or are still waiting for news Amen

27 Jun, 2021 16:05 

Death toll in Miami building collapse rises to 9 as rescue teams keep working ‘non-stop’
RT REPORT:

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed on Sunday morning that the number of confirmed deaths following the tragic collapse had risen to nine. One victim, pulled from the rubble on Thursday, died in hospital, and four more bodies were found overnight, bringing the total number of people found dead in the rubble to eight.

Sunday marked the fourth day of search-and-rescue operations since the collapse of the building. More than 150 people remain unaccounted-for, with fires and the poor structural condition of the building hampering rescue efforts.

“Our rescue teams are [working] non-stop, doing all that we can, searching every area,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky told reporters on Sunday morning. However, doing so while stabilizing the remains of the building is a “very, very slow process,” he added.Engineer warned of ‘major structural damage’ years before Florida condo complex collapsed – media

The cause of the collapse is still unknown, though an engineering consultant inspecting the building in 2018 found evidence of “major structural damage” to concrete, “abundant” cracking on columns in the parking garage, and poorly laid waterproofing below the pool deck that could cause “concrete deterioration,” the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The engineer declared at the time that most of the deteriorating concrete “needs to be repaired in a timely fashion,” and that doing so would preserve the “structural integrity” of the condo building.

The engineer’s report, which has just been made public, said the fault prevented water draining from the base of the seafront Champlain Towers.

Part of the building collapsed on Thursday while many residents slept.

Hopes are fading for the 159 people still unaccounted for. So far, five deaths have been confirmed. 

Rescue efforts were hampered on Saturday after a fire broke out underneath the rubble. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the blaze was “very deep” and rescuers faced “incredible difficulties” because of the fire. 

The building consultant’s report from three years ago came to light in a series of documents made public by the town of Surfside.

The engineer, Frank Morabito, said the lack of proper drainage was “a systemic issue” that stemmed from a flaw “in the development of the original contract documents”.

He flagged what he called “major structural damage” to the concrete platform beneath the swimming pool deck.

“The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas,” he wrote. “Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.”

The engineer also referred to “abundant cracking… of columns, beams and walls” in the parking garage.

His report didn’t suggest the 40-year-old building was at any imminent risk of collapse but he urged that the concrete repairs be carried out in “a timely fashion”.

Correspondents say it is not yet clear if the repairs were carried out or if the problems highlighted contributed to the structural failure. Champlain Towers had been due to undergo a multi-million dollar refurbishment this year. 

The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has promised that authorities will find out what happened saying “anybody affected by this directly wants that answer”.

Report showed ‘major’ damage before Florida condo collapse

Officials don’t know what caused a Florida beachside condominium tower to suddenly collapse

By CURT ANDERSON and BERNARD CONDON Associated Press

26 June 2021, 18:53

• 6 min read

Search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Fla., Friday, June 25, 2021. The apartment building partially collapsed on Thursday, June 24. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)
Search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Fla., Friday, June 25, 2021. The apartment building partially collapsed on Thursday, June 24. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The ground-floor pool deck of the oceanfront condominium building that collapsed near Miami was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed to be extensively repaired, according to a 2018 engineering report that also uncovered “abundant cracking and spalling” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.

The report was among a  series of documents released by the city of Surfside as  rescuers continued to dig Saturday through rubble in an effort to find any of the 159 people who remain unaccounted for after the collapse. At least four people were killed.

While the engineering report from the firm of Morabito Consultants did not warn of imminent danger from the damage — and it is unclear if any of the damage observed was responsible for the collapse — it did note the need for extensive and costly repairs to fix the systemic issues with Champlain Towers South.

The report said the waterproofing under the pool deck had failed and had been improperly laid flat instead of sloped, preventing water from draining off.

“The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replaced the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report said.

The firm recommended that the damaged slabs be replaced in what would be a major repair.

Some of the damage to the concrete in the parking garage was minor, while other columns had exposed and deteriorating rebar. It also noted that many of the building’s previous attempts to fix the columns and other damage with epoxy were marred by poor workmanship and were failing.

Beneath the pool deck “where the slab had been epoxy-injected, new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks,” the report said.

These were all problems that should have been dealt with quickly, said Gregg Schlesinger, an attorney specializing in construction defects and a former construction project engineer.

“The building speaks to us. It is telling us we have a serious problem,” Schlesinger said in a telephone interview Saturday about the new documents. “They (building managers) kicked the can down the road. The maintenance was improper. These were all red flags that needed to be addressed. They weren’t.”

Frank Morabito, the consulting firm’s president, did not immediately respond Saturday to an email seeking comment.

Abi Aghayere, a Drexel University engineering researcher, said the extent of the damage shown in the engineering report was notable. In addition to possible problems under the pool, he said several areas above the entrance drive showing signs of deterioration were worrisome and should have been repaired immediately.

“Were the supporting members deteriorated to the extent that a critical structural element or their connections failed leading to progressive collapse?” he wrote in an email to the AP after reviewing the report. “Were there other areas in the structure that were badly deteriorated and unnoticed?”

The building was in the midst of its 40-year recertification process, which requires detailed structural and electrical inspections. In an interview Friday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he wasn’t sure if the inspection had been completed, but he said it may contain vital clues.

“It should have been a very straightforward thing,” Burkett said. “Buildings in America do not just fall down like this. There is a reason. We need to find out what that reason is.”

The 12-story tower’s collapse Thursday morning has also raised questions over whether other similar buildings are in danger.

“This is a wake-up call for folks on the beach,” Schlesinger said. “The scary portion is the other buildings. You think this is unique? No.”

Details of the building’s 40-year recertification inspection will be made public once they are completed, Surfside Town Clerk Sandra McCready said in an email.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference Friday that she has seen no evidence of a sinkhole — much more common in other parts of Florida — or of something criminal, such as a bomb.

“I can tell you that at this time, they haven’t found any evidence of foul play,” she said.

Beyond that, much focus is on ocean water, which is rising in South Florida and elsewhere because of climate change. Last year, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure that would require developers to complete sea-level rise studies before beginning publicly funded projects.

One theory is that the saltwater ubiquitous in the area, which is subject to flooding during so-called King Tide events, intruded into concrete supports, corroding the steel-reinforcing rebar inside and weakening the concrete.

Meanwhile, the land on which Champlain Towers sat has been gradually sinking, according to a study published last year by an environmental professor at Florida International University.

But the professor, Shimon Wdowinski, cautioned against blaming the collapse on the caving ground.

“In most cases, these buildings just move,” he said in a video interview released by the university. “There’s no catastrophic collapse like in the case in Surfside, which was very unfortunate.”

Surfside officials say roof work was ongoing at the now-collapsed tower but have downplayed the possibility that work was a cause. Barry Cohen, a lawyer who escaped the crippled building with his wife, said the roof work could be part of a “perfect storm” of causes that combined to bring down the structure.

“They were doing a new roof. And I think, all day long, the building was pounding and pounding and pounding. They’ve been doing it for over a month,” Cohen said.

Another issue is whether nearby construction might have caused vibrations that weakened Champlain Towers. Cohen said he raised concerns previously that the work was possibly causing cracked pavers on the pool deck.

The collapse is already drawing lawsuits, including one filed hours after the collapse by attorney Brad Sohn against the condo’s homeowners association seeking damages for negligence and other reasons for all of the tower’s residents.

The association, the lawsuit contends, “could have prevented the collapse of Champlain Towers South through the exercise of ordinary care, safety measures and oversight.”

An attorney for the association, Ken Direktor, did not respond Friday to an email requesting comment.

—————

Condon reported from New York. Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this story.

What is the latest with the search efforts? 

Search and rescue teams continued to look for signs of life on Saturday, while families anxiously waited for updates. 

Rachel Spiegal, whose missing mother lived on the sixth floor of the building, told the Associated Press she was “praying for a miracle”. 

Jeanne Ugarte said she did not expect her long-time friends who lived in the building to be found alive. “It’s been too long,” she told the news agency. 

Reuters: People are waiting for news about missing loved ones

Teams have been using machines, drones and specially trained dogs in their efforts to find survivors.

“Any time that we hear a sound, we concentrate in that area,” Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told reporters. “It could be just steel twisting, it could be debris raining down, but not specifically sounds of tapping or sounds of a human voice.”

Rescuers are working in rotation with a limited number allowed on site at any one time to prevent any further collapse. 

Teams from Mexico and Israel have been helping with the search efforts, according to reports. 

President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Florida, meaning the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help state agencies with the relief effort.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said crews were doing everything possible to find survivors. “We do not have a resource problem, we have a luck problem,” he said.

Local officials have provided families with hotel rooms and food as they wait for news about their loved ones.

The missing include people from Israel and Latin America, according to reports. Paraguay’s foreign ministry said six of its nationals had been registered as missing, including relatives of the country’s first lady. 

What happened to the building?

The building contained 136 apartments and 55 of them collapsed early on Thursday, leaving piles of debris.

Resident Barry Cohen was in bed in a section of the building that survived when the collapse happened. “It sounded like thunder, and my wife and I, we went out on the balcony; it looked like a bomb had exploded,” he told the BBC.

“When we opened the door, there was no building there, it was just a pile of rubble,” he said.

Eyewitnesses described hearing what sounded like thunder before seeing a huge cloud of dust in the aftermath of the collapse. 

A full investigation into the collapse is set to begin after the rescue mission.As the building has stood since 1980, it was due its standard 40-year review. It was undergoing its “recertification” process and required repairs, officials said.Kenneth Direktor, a lawyer involved in the work, was quoted in the New York Times as saying engineers had identified rusted steel and damaged concrete that needed repairing, but added that he saw nothing to suggest the collapse had anything to do with that review.

A study from researchers at Florida International University published last year found that the building had been sinking at a rate of two millimetres per year in the 1990s, which may have affected the building structurally.But the author has cautioned that the study was just a snapshot in time.

The building was constructed on reclaimed wetland, which experts say is always of concern as the land underneath can compact over time, leading to shifts.

On the sinking, the author of the study, Prof Shimon Wdowinski, told the Miami Herald newspaper: “We’ve seen much higher than that, but it stood out because most of the area was stable and showed no subsidence.”Prof Wdowinski said the research was not meant to suggest certainty about the latest incident.

Ace Daily News/ RT News/ABC News/BBC News/Reuters/Local Media

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Jun.29: 2021:

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