Search and rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed Florida condominium complex in Surfside, Miami, U.S., in this handout image July 2, 2021.
MIAMI DADE FIRE DEPARTMENT | via REUTERS
The demolition of the partially collapsed condominium tower in Surfside, Florida will begin Sunday night with search operations to resume as soon as the site is secure, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
The demolition will take place between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., Levine Cava said during a press conference Sunday evening. Residents in the shelter-in-place zone should remain indoors effective immediately, according to the Miami-Dade police.
The shelter-in-place order lifts two hours after the demolition is complete, Levine Cava said. Residents should close all windows, doors and air intakes, she said.
“The demolition is confined to the immediate area around the building,” the mayor said. “However, there is dust and other particles that are an unavoidable byproduct of all types of demolition, and as a precautionary measure we’re urging residents in the immediate vicinity to stay indoors during the demolition.”
Search-and-rescue efforts at the building were temporarily halted on Saturday afternoon for demolition preparation, which included drilling into the remaining structure’s columns. Levine Cava said Sunday the search will resume immediately after the building is down and the site is deemed secure.
“Bringing the building down in a controlled manner is critical to expanding our scope of search as you know in the pile, and allowing us to search in the area closest to the building which has not been accessible to the teams given the grave risk to our first responders due to the instability of the building,” Levine Cava said.
No one has been rescued since the first few hours after the collapse of Champlain Towers South 11 days ago. The death toll rose to 24 people as of Saturday, with 121 still missing. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, during a news briefing early Saturday, said the state will pay for all costs of the demolition.
The demolition will be conducted through a technique called energetic felling, which relies on the force of gravity to take down the building with small denotations and confines the collapse to the area of the building, according to Levine Cava.
Officials initially thought a demolition could take weeks. But plans to demolish the remaining structure were quickened amid concerns that weather impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa could hit Florida early next week and further threaten the unstable structure with heavy rainfall and winds.
The cause of the collapse of Champlain Towers South, which was built in the 1980s, is still unknown. However, an engineering consultant filed a report from 2018 warning of cracking and major structural damage below the building’s pool deck.