Demolition experts are preparing to demolish the remainder of the partially collapsed condominium along the ocean in South Florida, fearing that it is unstable and could fall on its own in the face of high winds from an advancing tropical storm.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the building was “tottering,” as officials on Saturday suspended operations in the search for anyone still alive from the sudden, middle-of-the-night collapse of a large part of the 12-story condominium June 24.
The death toll stands at 24, with 121 people still unaccounted for, and no one has been found alive since the earliest hours of the search.
The demolition workers were boring holes into the concrete of the remaining portion of the condo in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami, to position explosives that will raze the tower.
The timing for the demolition has not been disclosed, but is likely to be soon, with Tropical Storm Elsa roiling the waters in the Caribbean and forecast to hit Florida by Tuesday morning.
Residents of the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South have long since evacuated it and officials are not allowing them back in to retrieve any belongings, assessing it as too dangerous.
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told relatives of the missing people that the search in the rubble of the collapsed portion of the building had to be suspended as a safety measure because the drilling to place the explosives could itself make the building fall.
“It’s just going to collapse without warning,” he said.
DeSantis said, “We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering. It is structurally unsound.”
“And although the eye of the storm is not likely to pass over this direction, you could feel gusts in this area,” the governor said.
The remaining portion of the building could be taken down on Monday, with the search for more survivors resuming when it is considered safe to do so.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.