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Miami Building That Caused 24 Deaths With 121 People Still Missing, Demolished Over Safety Fears

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The remaining section of a partially collapsed apartment block near Miami has been demolished over safety fears as a tropical storm approaches Florida.

On Sunday night, explosive charges were used to bring down the last standing part of Champlain Towers South, which had been evacuated.

On 24 June, part of the block suddenly collapsed. Twenty-four people are known to have died and 121 are still missing.

Crews resumed the search for victims within a few hours of the demolition.

They are now hoping to be able to get into the apartment block’s underground garage, which they could not access safely before, and get a clearer picture of any voids that may exist in the rubble.

City officials decided to demolish the remaining part of Champlain Towers South with explosives, accelerating their plans due to an approaching tropical storm Elsa
The demolition was brought forward after concerns were raised over the approaching Tropical Storm Elsa

No survivors have been pulled from the rubble at the site in Surfside since the first few hours after the structure’s collapse.

The demolition operation was brought forward after concerns were raised over the approaching Tropical Storm Elsa, which could reach Florida on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the town’s Mayor Charles Burkett said there was a danger that strong winds could bring down additional debris and endanger the lives of search crews.

He said demolition experts would be able to control how the structure fell, and that the explosion could “potentially open up a third of the pile [of rubble]” for emergency teams to access.

The existing rubble, meanwhile, was covered with a tarpaulin to protect it from any dust or debris caused by the collapse.

While no other buildings in the area were evacuated, nearby residents were advised to stay indoors and close their windows until at least two hours after the demolition.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the controlled implosion went “exactly as planned”.

“I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts,” she told the Associated Press.

An aerial view of the site during a rescue operation of the Champlain Tower partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, 1 July 2021
Twenty-four people are known to have died when part of the 12-storey block in Surfside collapsed on 24 June

Ms Levine Cava expressed sympathy for the families of the missing and said those who were forced to evacuate the remaining part of the block had “left their entire lives behind”.

She said teams scoured the structure using drones with thermal imaging cameras to make sure there were no pets still in the building.

Meanwhile, officials are investigating other tower blocks in the area for potential structural faults.

What caused the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South to crumble remains unclear. A 2018 inspection, however, warned of “major” flaws in the original design.

The building association’s board has said it will appoint an “independent receiver… to oversee the legal and claims process”.

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