Search crews have resumed combing through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, on Monday, looking for the tower’s 118 missing residents, following a decision to implode the building’s remains.
Around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, crews set off explosives designed to bring down what was left of the Champlain Towers following an unexpected partial collapse in late June that left much of the condominium building in a pile of rubble on top of what was once the tower’s pool deck.
Miami-Dade officials announced the demolition Sunday morning, concerned that an incoming tropical storm could further damage the already crumbling structure, putting search and rescue crews in danger. Demolition crews from a Seattle-based company, which has experience in large-scale building demolitions, were dispatched Sunday afternoon.
CBS News captured the dramatic explosion and posted the footage to social media.
The remaining part of the Champlain Towers South building was demolished Sunday night, hours after the mayor of Miami-Dade announced the timeframe for demolition. As of Sunday, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, with 121 still missing. pic.twitter.com/yJ69Oewzqf
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 5, 2021
By the time search efforts halted earlier this weekend, rescuers had found the remains of 24 residents, but it has been days since anyone has been recovered from the rubble alive. Following the demolition, crews found the remains of an additional 3 residents.
NBC News reported Monday that search efforts resumed following the demolition, but could be put on hold again as Tropical Storm Elsa moves up the Florida coast.
“Search and rescue efforts for 118 unaccounted for residents continued Monday now that the unstable remnants of a Miami-area condo tower that collapsed nearly two weeks ago has been brought down,” the outlet said. “The destruction of the remaining structure has allowed search and rescue teams to explore more of the debris without concerns that the unstable building will collapse on the crews, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on NBC News’ ‘TODAY’ show.”
“We owe it to all of those waiting to get this pile and open it up for search and that’s exactly what happened last night before midnight,” Cava said. “They were out there again, searching in the rubble. And we understand that families realize the fact that time has gone by, they realize that the chances are going dimmer and dimmer.”
Surfside, Florida, mayor Charles Burkett said Monday that the demolition has allowed crews to work faster, and that the search teams are now exhuming the collapsed apartments at a much faster rate because they are now able to use heavy equipment, which was, before the demolition, prohibited, lest the machines destablize the remaining structure.
Officials, the New York Times added over the weekend, are now struggling with how long to call the operation a “search and rescue” operation, given that the chances of finding a survivor in the wreckage are “dimming.” Declaring the effort a “recovery” process “could unlock new, potentially faster ways of tunneling through the layers of concrete to find remains” and it “could also allow the families of the missing to move forward in the grieving process.”
But the drawback, of course, is that it would involve admitting that its likely the 118 missing residents of the Champlain Towers South are dead.
Burkett told media that the search’s official designation was immaterial.
“Efforts will continue 24/7 until every unaccounted for person will is found, with the exception of bad weather, Burkett said,” per NBC.