It’s the 9th day after the collapse of a Surfside condo in Miami Florida. More than 10 workers were seen digging through the pile of the collapsed condo which has now reached about 20 feet (6 m), 10 feet (3 m) lower than a week ago. The cranes were again lifting the heavy objects from the heap and then the workers climbed into the pile and started removing the small debris by hand.
Two more bodies, including the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter have been recovered raising the death toll to 20, while 128 are still missing.
Daniela Levin Cava; Miami-Dade County Mayor said the decision about demolition needed to be “extremely careful and systematic” given the potential impact on the rubble pile and the impact on the search.
Rescue work was halted early Thursday after workers noticed cracks in a large pillar and movement of up to a foot. Work resumed shortly before 5 p.m. after structural engineers evaluated the site, with Kawa telling firefighters “really, really excited there.”
“We will continue to search feverishly, as we have done in the parts of the fall that we currently have,” she said.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the halt was worrying because “minutes and hours matter, lives are at stake.”
The temporary halt of the rescue operation came to the fore on the same day President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden Visit devastated community.
“It’s life and death,” Biden said during a briefing. “We can do it, just the simple act of everyone doing what needs to be done makes a difference.”
“There is going to be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering and even psychological help is going to be needed in the days and months to come,” he said. “And so, we’re not going anywhere.”
During a private meeting with family members, Biden tried to comfort him by sharing his own experiences with grief. Biden lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident and decades later lost an adult son to brain cancer.
“I just wish I could do something to ease the pain,” he said in a video posted to Instagram by Jacqueline Patoka, a woman who was close to a couple and their daughter, who are still missing.
Biden expressed a desire to switch places with a lost or missing loved one. “The wait, the wait is unbearable,” he said.
The cause of the collapse is being investigated. A 2018 engineering report found that the building’s ground-floor pool deck hinged on a concrete slab had “major structural damage” and required extensive repairs. The report also found “abundant cracks” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.
Meanwhile, Florida officials are working on a plan to tear down the remains of the partially collapsed seaside condominium building after a 15-hour search for survivors was halted due to concerns about the structure’s instability.
FEMA structures specialist Scott Nacheman said engineers are looking at different approaches to demolition and how to proceed “to make the site safe for ongoing rescue operations.”
Nacheman said that if the building comes down, there will be a slowdown in the rescue operation initially. But he said the demolition of the structure would create a safer work environment that could allow more personnel on site and speed up the pace of work.
He said it was likely to be a few weeks before Florida officials scheduled the demolition.