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Miami-Dade building collapse: Rescuers continue to look for survivors while investigators look for answers about what caused the collapse


Spalling is a term used to describe areas of concrete that have cracked or crumbled.

Residents of the building also had raised concerns over tremors during construction of a nearby building in 2019, according to documents obtained by CNN and interviews with the family members of people missing in the collapse.

Donna DiMaggio Berger, an attorney for the condominium board, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday that she didn’t think the building was in a state of disrepair prior to its collapse.

“We have months and years to dig into what happened, and we’re going to. The board is already in the process of hiring an engineer to also try to figure out what happened, and they will be evaluating who’s responsible.”

The condo owners were facing assessments for $15 million worth of repairs to the building, with payments set to begin July 1.

The association approved the assessment in April to complete repairs required under the county’s 40-year recertification process, according to documents obtained by CNN.

The investigation will take months

While there are no clear answers on the cause, early signs point to some failure in the lower reaches of the 13-story building, perhaps in its foundation, columns or underground parking garage, according to experts.

Forensic engineers will need to examine the ground-floor columns in their investigation, Sinisa Kolar, a Miami-based engineering executive, told CNN.

He explained that samples of concrete will need to be tested to examine the condition and then those samples will need to be cross-referenced with structural drawings.

“The key element to this investigation, in my opinion, lies in that rubble, in those columns and condition of the structural elements,” Kolar said.

The investigation could take months or longer, according to Allyn Kilsheimer, the structural engineer hired by the town of Surfside. He has started to examine the building and will use a meticulous, computer-assisted process of elimination to attempt to identify the cause or causes, he said.

“Unless it’s a plane or a bomb that you know triggered this whole thing, sometimes you can’t get it down to one cause,” he said. “You don’t know what you’re going to end up with until you finish the whole study.”

A pool contractor who was servicing the condo pool 36 hours before its collapse told the Miami Herald he had seen standing water and cracks in concrete underneath the pool deck.
Condo owners in Surfside building were facing assessments for $15 million worth of repairs

When he first entered the building, the pool area and upper lobby looked fine, but when he walked into the basement garage under the pool deck, he claims he saw lots of standing water and claims to have found cracks in the concrete in the pool equipment room, according to Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey.

“He took a picture of that concrete to send to his boss, because he was there to do a little bit of cosmetic stuff to the pool, but he thought, ‘Wow, this is going to be a bigger job,’ took a picture, sent it to his boss,” Blaskey told CNN.

She noted that the photos were reportedly taken in the equipment room on south side of the basement structure, rather than the north side, where the structure caved.

Families and friends are waiting for answers

Meanwhile, at least 11 victims have been identified. They are Stacie Fang, 54, Antonio Lozano, 82, Gladys Lozano, 80, Manuel LaFont, 54, Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, Luis Bermudez, 26, Anna Ortiz, 46, Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74, Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, Frank Kleiman, 55 and Michael David Altman, 50.

Family members of those still missing are waiting for any answers they can get as the search continues.

Leo Souto adds flowers to a memorial featuring photos of some of those lost in the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building.

“I have 100% faith in a lot that’s going on here,” Kevin Spiegel, the husband of Judy Spiegel, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Honestly, I think we all want more information.”

Their daughter Rachel told CNN’s Don Lemon she’s nervous about the fires from the collapse and how the heat and smoke may be impacting rescue efforts. “I’m very worried,” she said.

However, she told CNN she was very optimistic about the expert teams from abroad that have come to help with the rescue attempt. “There are so many teams from other countries coming in and coming to help us, which is fantastic.”

Ronit Felszer and Carlos Naibryf told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Monday that they are being realistic about the possible outcome.

Carlos Naibryf said his son “was a 21-year-old young adult. Bright. Everywhere he went, he made an impact … now he’s at U. Chicago, physics major.”

When Camerota asked the parents if they’re still believing in a miracle, Felszer shook her head.

“We want to believe in a miracle because we still don’t have the physical presence, in part or in whole, of our son,” she said.

“A miracle can come, yes, but we have to be very realistic,” the father told CNN.

Rescue conditions remain dangerous

While families grieve and hope and officials investigate, the mayor of Surfside said the primary focus is to get victims out of the debris.

“The number one priority here is pulling these people out of the rubble and we’re going to focus only on that. The second priority is supporting the families,” Charles Burkett told CNN’s John Berman on Monday night.

Miami Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said the search efforts are “a slow process, but we’re definitely making progress.” Rescuers are working 12-hour shifts and efforts have continued non-stop since the collapse early Thursday morning.

How to help Surfside building collapse victims

“These men and women aren’t pausing,” Florida CFO and state Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said. “They continue to have a type of momentum and motivation that is really, really inspiring

Victims have been found in different areas as the teams search through various search grids, rather than one isolated area, according to Cominsky.

While rescuers were impeded by weather conditions and smoke conditions earlier in the week, conditions have improved but remain dangerous in the search area.

“There’s definitely a concern with the rain, and now the debris, and possibly sliding — so I mean it’s an extremely dangerous situation,” he said. “It’s a very, very difficult, very, very challenging situation, and you know we’re doing the best that we can what we’re trained to do and will definitely continue moving forward.

CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn, Rebekah Riess, Rosa Flores, Curt Devine and Camille Furst contributed to this report.


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