Residents of sister building in Miami leave their homes despite being told there is no need to evacuate

The search for survivors in Surfside is accompanied by a clamour for answers.

Families of the dead and missing want to know how and why this building could collapse with such violent force that those sleeping inside stood little chance.

People living in nearby high-rise apartment blocks are asking if their building could be next, none more so than the residents of Champlain Tower North, the sister building to Champlain Tower South, which collapsed.

First victims pictured as Miami building collapse deaths rise to five

First victims pictured as Miami building collapse deaths rise to five

They were built just one year apart, with the same design and same constructors, yet residents here have been told that evacuation is not necessary.

Nora and her neighbours chat nervously in front of the building’s entrance, wondering if they should be vacating.

William Bradford has already moved out of his own accord. He strides towards Collins Avenue, the main beachfront road in Surfside with two dollars in his pocket and all the clothes he needs packed in a plastic bag.

“I’m just going back for my passport and documents,” he says, “I am very worried, I am 75 years old and I am living with the stress every day that this building is going to collapse, I had to get out of there.”

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Residents of nearby buildings want to know if they are safe
Image:Residents of nearby buildings want to know if they are safe

Local people want reassurances from the authorities that they are safe going to bed at night. At a press conference under a tarpaulin tent with a storm raging overhead, Florida governor Ron DeSantis refused to be drawn on whether he would feel safe if he was living there.

“I know they are considering potentially evacuating them,” he said of the residents in the north tower, “but that’s something that ultimately the mayor is going to have to make the call on.”

William Bradford, 75, has already moved out of his apartment
Image:William Bradford, 75, has already moved out of his apartment

Every day here brings fresh heartbreak for the families of the five confirmed dead and more than 150 people still missing.

This time it was news of a report which found “major structural damage” in the vicinity of the building and crumbling of columns in the parking garage beneath.

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, spoke at a press conference
Image:Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, spoke at a press conference

That was three years ago.

When the building came down in the early hours of Thursday morning, repairs still hadn’t started.

Families have now been moved from a community building in the centre of Surfside to a beachfront hotel which has been repurposed as a reunification centre.

But any hope that families will be reunited with living relatives has been almost extinguished.

At a police briefing for families on Saturday evening which was posted online many sobbed as they were told that human remains had been found in the wreckage.

These aerial images show search and rescue workers working the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed, with at least one dead and over 100 persons unaccounted for, in Surfside, Fla., Friday, June 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Image:Families have been asked to provide DNA samples. Pic: AP

Others asked if there was evidence of a sinkhole in the parking garage beneath the building, where many residents had complained of flooding prior to the collapse.

All families have been asked to provide DNA samples of their loved ones which might help with what is likely to be a long and laborious identification process, with the aim of bringing some closure to the most horrific of ordeals.

Mark Gibson

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

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