Search continues for survivors of collapsed Miami building as engineers’ report emerges warning of structural damage

No more survivors have been found in the rubble of a collapsed Miami apartment block, as it emerged engineers warned of structural damage to the building three years ago.

The Champlain Towers South building in Surfside collapsed on Thursday, killing four people and prompting a search and rescue operation for the 159 people missing.

Miami-Dade mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the search and rescue operation was continuing but that a fire within the wreckage was making the work difficult.

SURFSIDE FL - JUNE 25: A general view of the collapsed condo as family members remain missing after the condo collapsed in Surfside on June 25, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Credit: mpi04/MediaPunch
Image:More than 100 people are still missing after the building collapsed on Thursday. Pic: AP

She said: “We’re facing very incredible difficulties with this fire. It’s a very deep fire.

“It’s extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire.”

Authorities will also begin an audit of buildings nearing their 40-year review to make sure they’re safe.

The Champlain Towers South was built in 1981 and was preparing for a recertification process – a safety requirement for buildings reaching 40 years of age in Florida.

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Among the buildings that will be audited is one that is on the same street, built by the same developer at around the same time, the mayor said.

Meanwhile, an engineering report has emerged which warned of various structural problems with the 12-storey Champlain Towers South.

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Safety concerns raised for ‘sister block’ of collapsed Miami building

The report, by Morabito Consultants in 2018, said waterproofing under the pool deck had failed, having been incorrectly laid flat instead of sloped, preventing water from draining away.

When asked about it, Ms Cava said: “We did not know about this report.”

The report did not warn of imminent danger and it is not clear if the damage played a part in the collapse, but it recommended that the damaged slabs be replaced in what was expected to be an “extremely expensive” repair.

“The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas,” it said.

“Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.”

Champlain Towers South, Florida. Engineering report into problems with the building's structure. The building collapsed last week killing four people with 159 missing.
Image:The report said there was “abundant cracking” in the parking garage

The report also said there was “abundant cracking” in concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage, including areas under the pool with “exposed deteriorating rebar”.

It criticised the standard of some previous repair efforts, saying they were marred by poor workmanship and “new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks” under the pool deck.

It said some of the damage was minor but most of it “needs to be repaired in a timely fashion”.

The 84-page report was submitted to the town in April and it detailed a 40-year repair and restoration plan for the apartment building,

Satellite data from the 1990s has also showed the building was sinking between one and three millimetres each year, despite surrounding buildings remaining stable.

Florida International University professor Shimon Wdowinski said the data could suggest a structural compromise within the building, but it could also have indicated that the building was settling into the soil.

Mark Gibson

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

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