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Live Updates: Building Collapse in Miami Area



Live Updates Building Collapse in Miami Area
The portion of the Champlain Towers South condominium building that was still standing was demolished late Sunday in Surfside, Florida.
Credit…Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The remaining portion of a collapsed South Florida condominium building was demolished Sunday night, after officials feared it might not withstand the powerful winds of an approaching tropical storm and could put rescue workers in danger.


The demolition of Champlain Towers South, at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, came as haunted families waited for news in the search for 121 people missing since the building collapsed 11 days ago. Rescue efforts were halted for most of the weekend amid growing concerns about the building’s stability, and officials warned Surfside residents to stay indoors in case dust and other particles polluted the air.

Officials said the demolition, which was initially thought to take weeks, was needed to restart rescue efforts.

Governor Ron DeSantis said concerns about the remaining portion of the building left few options but demolition. Residents of the building who survived fled with everything they had with them and were not allowed to enter the shaky structure. Passports, wedding rings, precious photos were left behind.

“Ultimately, that building is too unsafe to let people back in,” Mr. DeSantis said. “I know there are a lot of people who were lucky to get out, who have stuff there. We are very sensitive to that. But I don’t think there’s any way to get anyone back to that building, given the shape it’s in now.’


Mr DeSantis said that while Surfside was not expected to see the worst, approaching Tropical Storm Elsa, the city could still experience high winds and heavy rain.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team swept the building three times to look for abandoned pets. “The latest information we have is that there are no longer any animals in the building,” Ms Levine Cava said.

Demolition of the remaining portion of the tower could help searchers access some of the debris they previously couldn’t safely reach, Ms Levine Cava said. Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said a third of the mess has yet to be searched.


Also on Sunday, authorities identified another victim of the collapse: David Epstein, 58. The death toll remained at 24.

Intense waves during the passage of Tropical Storm Elsa in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Saturday.
Credit…Orlando Barria/EPA, via Shutterstock

As Tropical Storm Elsa Florida was approaching, officials said they hoped the storm would spare Surfside, the site where the building collapsed. They warned residents closer to the storm’s forecast path, west of the Miami area, to prepare for heavy rains and possible power outages.

Elsa was expected to pass near the Florida Keys early Tuesday and then move near or over parts of Florida’s west coast, the National Hurricane Center said Monday.


On Sunday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said crews in Surfside, Florida, were still anticipating possible effects from the storm that would temporarily force them to stop working for their own safety.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said officials continued to monitor the storm’s path.

“Obviously these tracks can change,” he said.

By late Monday, tropical storm conditions were expected in parts of the Florida Keys, and Elsa could dump up to 6 inches of rain over parts of Florida, leading to flooding, the center said.

Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, was the first victim identified in the flat collapse. She was the mother of Jonah Handler, a 15-year-old boy who was pulled alive from the rubble in a… dramatic rescue while begging rescuers, “Please don’t abandon me.”

Antonio Lozano, 83, and Gladys Lozano, 79, were confirmed dead by Mr. Lozano’s cousin, Phil Ferro, the chief meteorologist on WSVN Channel 7 in Miami. Mr Ferro wrote on Instagram: “They were such beautiful people. May they rest in peace.”

Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, lived with his mother, Ana Ortiz, 46, and stepfather, Frank Kleiman, 55. Mr Bermudez’s father confirmed his son’s death on social media, writing in Spanish: “My Luiyo. You gave me everything… I will miss you all my life. We’ll see each other soon. I will never leave you alone.”

Manuel LaFont, 54, was a businessman who worked with Latin American companies. His ex-wife, Adriana LaFont, described him as “the best dad.” Mr. LaFont’s son, 10, and daughter, 13, were with Mrs. LaFont when the building collapsed.

Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21, was in South Florida visiting Mr. LaFont, a close friend of his father. He studied economics at Vanderbilt University and was a high school decathlon athlete. An image of him is on a mural outside the school’s sports hall.

Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and Cristina Beatriz Elvira, 74, came from Venezuela and had recently moved to Surfside, according to, who said they were active in the Orthodox Jewish community in greater Chicago, where one of their daughters lives.


Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, lived with his wife, Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and their two daughters, Lucia Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4. Mr. Guara was remembered as a kind and generous man, a godfather to twins and a fan of hard rock music.

Hilda Noriega, 92, was a longtime resident of Champlain Towers South who loved to travel and whose family described her “unconditional love.” Hours before the collapse, she attended a party with relatives.

Michael David Altman, 50, came to the United States from Costa Rica as a child and was an avid racquetball player in his youth. “He was a warm man. He overcame many obstacles in his life and always came out on top,” says his son Nicholas. told The Miami Herald.

Also killed in the collapse were Claudio Bonnefoy, 85, and Maria Obias-Bonnefoy, 69; Graciela Cattarossi, 48; Magaly Elena Delgado, 80; Bonnie Epstein, 56, and David Epstein, 58; Gonzalo Torre, 81; and the 7 year old daughter from a Miami firefighter, whom authorities declined to name.

North Miami Beach officials had spent years trying to bring a 10-story apartment building called Crestview Towers into line.  It was evacuated on Friday.
Credit…Giulia Heyward/The New York Times

Florida high-rise building regulations have long been among the strictest in the country. But after parts of Champlain Towers South came crashing down on June 24, killing at least 24 people and leaving 121 missing, there is evidence that those rules have been applied unevenly by local authorities, and sometimes not at all.

Miami-Dade County officials said last week they were prioritizing assessments of 24 multi-story buildings that had failed major structural or electrical inspections after 40 years, or had failed to submit the reports in the first place. But the province’s own data shows that 17 of those cases had been open for a year or more. Two cases were against county property. The oldest case had remained unsolved since 2008.


The City of North Miami Beach had spent years trying and failing to bring a 10-story condo building within its boundaries, Crestview Towers, into compliance with 40-year recertification requirements. When the building’s condo association finally filed the required paperwork last week, about nine years late, it documented critical safety concerns, a city spokesperson said. Civil servants the building evacuated on Friday.

Meanwhile, the same local authorities took a haphazard approach to identify other potentially unsafe buildings in the region, with the age and height criteria that would trigger additional scrutiny varying from place to place. At least one local government, the village of Key Biscayne, chose not to conduct additional inspections at all, an official there said.

Even if construction auditors focused only on towers of 10 stories or more built in the 1970s and 1980s, the task would still be daunting. An analysis of property data by The New York Times shows that at least 270 such buildings grace the skylines of Miami-Dade County’s cities, towns and cities, with dozens more in the county’s unincorporated areas.

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