Grand jury promised over Miami building collapse as death toll rises to 12

Authorities in Miami have pledged to carry out multiple investigations over the collapse of a high-rise apartment building that has left at least 12 people dead.

Officials in Miami-Dade County have already recruited experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – who worked on the Twin Towers attack – to gather evidence at the site in Surfside.

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava vowed to meet with engineering, construction and geology experts to review building safety issues and “ensure a tragedy like this will never, ever happen again” in Florida.

Meanwhile state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she will pursue a grand jury investigation into why the 12-story Champlain Towers South complex came down on Thursday.

Pic: AP
Image:The rescue effort is in its sixth day. Pic: AP

A grand jury, which is convened to establish if a crime was committed or not, could result in manslaughter charges.

It has now been revealed that the building crumbled just days before condo owners were due to start paying for repair works that had been commissioned three years earlier due to “major structural damage”.

On Tuesday a 12th body was recovered from the rubble, with 149 people still unaccounted for.

More on Florida

  • Miami building collapse: 9/11 investigators to look into disaster as death toll rises to 12

  • Miami building collapse: Relatives of British mum who lived in tower block struggle through uncertain grief

  • Miami building collapse: Number of dead rises to nine after more bodies recovered from rubble

  • Miami building collapse: Report warned of structural damage three years ago – and sister block ‘could be evacuated’

  • ‘Honey, the pool is caving in’: Woman says sister was on phone to husband as she stood on collapsed Miami building balcony

  • Miami building collapse: ‘We are praying every minute’ – family clinging to hope as 159 people still unaccounted for

Families of residents pleaded with the authorities as search and rescue teams entered their sixth day on Tuesday.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Kevin Spiegal’s wife Judy was in the apartment block that collapsed near Miami, Florida

Martin Langesfeld, whose sister, 26-year-old Nicole is still missing, expressed hope that there are still survivors.

“We’re not alone in this. There’s hope. I really believe miracles do happen,” he said at a vigil.

At least 400 rescue workers are currently at the scene, having been deployed from Florida, Mexico and Israel, rotating in and out of the rubble every 45 minutes on 12-hour shifts.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by heavy rain, fires and stifling heat, but Governor Ron DeSantis said there was still a good chance of finding people alive.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ashley Dean says her sister Cassie Stratton was on the phone to her husband, a prominent Democrat, when the apartment block caved in

“The way I look at it, as an old Navy guy, is when somebody is missing in action, in the military, you’re missing until you’re found. We don’t stop the search,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Those first responders are breaking their backs trying to find anybody they can. They’ve been very selfless. They’ve put themselves at risk to do it.”

Debris is lifted through the air by cranes
Image:Debris is lifted through the air by cranes

Crews are using cranes, dogs and infrared scans as they look for any signs of life amid the ruins, hoping air pockets may have formed underneath the concrete that could be keeping some people alive.

The disaster has resulted in scrutiny of safety measures in older tower blocks in South Florida.

Mayor Cava has ordered a 30-day audit of all buildings that are more than 40 years old to check they comply with regulations.

Pic: AP
Image:Tributes are pictured near the site to those who are dead or missing. Pic: AP

She said immediate inspections had uncovered four balconies at one Miami apartment block that “had to be closed immediately due to safety concerns”.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill are due to visit the site on Thursday.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *