Rescuers continue to sift through to the rubble of the Florida condominium collapse. Authorities identified four more bodies last Sunday even as the search for the Champlain Towers survivors continued.
The death toll is now at nine, while around 150 persons remain missing. Meanwhile, town officials called in a new engineer to investigate the cause of the disaster.
Champlain Towers Condominium Collapse
Rescuers still believe that some missing residents might still be alive under the rubble. Asked about the possibility of getting more people out alive, Miami Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said “Hope — that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Later that day, County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said they will provide a place near the wreckage for relatives to pray and grieve for the condominium collapse. “We are working with the families, and there will be an opportunity for visitation,” Cava said.
Veteran Investigator To Look Into Why
Surfside officials are still looking for answers as to why the Florida condominium collapsed like that. They brought a veteran engineer to look into what happened to Champlain Towers South.
They brought in Allyn Kilsheimer, a veteran structural engineer who previously investigated the Oklahoma federal building and the World Trade Center after their bombings. Kilsheimer said he will look into the foundation, concrete, leaks, groundwater, and possible intrusion of saltwater to arrive at a conclusion.
“The water penetration can be groundwater, it can be tidal water, and it can be rainwater. We don’t know the answer to any of those yet,” said Kilsheimer.
Asked on whether the rising sea levels contributed to the damage, Kilsheimer said the effect remains minimal at best. “An answer is always possible; it might not be what people want to hear.
Probably 90 percent of the collapses we’ve dealt with, other than things caused by bombs and planes, have been multiple things all going wrong at the same time. The perfect storm.” he added.
Walkthrough of the Other Towers
At the moment, Kilsheimer’s team is creating computer models as well as an analysis of the building’s design. Last Saturday, the team conducted a walkthrough of the Florida condominium’s other towers to check for structural issues.
On Saturday, he conducted a walk-through of the downed condominium’s sister buildings — Champlain Towers North and Champlain Towers East — to study various support columns as well as the slab under the first floor.
Initially, he doesn’t see anything that could say why the Florida condominium collapsed. “I didn’t see anything . . . that, in my mind, was a concern for a structural collapse mechanism,” he said.
Wait For The Rescue Operations To Finish
For now, Kilsheimer can only wait before he can start his probe. He wants the rescue officers to continue searching for survivors and take all the time they need. “Right now, we need to let these special rescue guys do what they’re doing. And only when they finish that and the debris is cleaned up can I have access to the site to do stuff I need to do on-site,” he said.
Meanwhile, Surfside Town Manager Andy Hyatt said they hired independent engineers from around the country to help inspect nearby buildings.
They will also assist Surfside’s town engineer Jim McGuinness in investigating the condominium collapse. Earlier reports said that engineer Frank Morabito warned that the concrete slab below the pool deck had major structural damage.
His report also included details that waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive had failed, allowing damaging leaks. However, Kilsheimer dismissed the possibility of that structural damage leading to the condominium collapse. “Nothing in it raised a red flag,” he said.
A month after Morabito issued his report, Surfside building official Rosendo Prieto told condo association officers that Champlain Towers remains in “very good shape,” according to minutes. Prieto has yet to comment on this.
Watch the FOX 13 Tampa Bay video showing the actual moments when Champlain Towers South collapsed:
What do you think really happened with Champlain Towers? Was it structural damage over the years? Or, was this an obvious case of neglect by building officials over the years.
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