The demolition of the uncollapsed parts of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Fl., which is slated to begin as early as Sunday, should speed up recovery of the over 120 people still missing in the deadly disaster as it will open up access to a previously unreachable part of the rubble, the city’s mayor told CBS News on Sunday morning.
Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mayor Charles Burkett said rescue crews are about 80% complete with their preparations to begin taking the building down, meaning the process could begin later in the day.
Demolishing the remainder of the building is critical because it will allow crews to resume the work they were forced to pause due to concerns over the structural soundness of the still-standing portion of the condo.
Furthermore, it should actually speed up recovery efforts because it will open up a “whole area” where rescue crews previously couldn’t access, according to the mayor.
“There’s an area of that mound [of debris] that we were not able to work in safely” that this demolition is “going to open up wide,” Burkett said.
The mayor said that victims in the pile of debris should not be harmed by the demolition as “the intention is to bring the building down in a westward direction” so the pile is “not affected.”
“We’re going to be able to pour resources into that pile … and we’re going to attack it big time and we’re going to try to pull all those victims out and reunite them with their families,” Burkett said.
A litany of rescue teams have been parsing through the rubble for more than a week since the condo suddenly collapsed in the early hours of June 24. However, no -one has been found alive since hours after the 12-story building crumbled to the ground. Nonetheless, Burkett on Sunday said local officials are holding out hope that some of the 124 condo residents still missing will be reunited with their families alive. “I’m constantly telling people about the BBC documentary which outlines survivability after a collapse, where they pulled a lady in Bangladesh out after 17 days,” Burkett said. “We’re not even near that.”
24. That’s how many people are now confirmed dead from the collapse.
What To Watch For
The search crews may also have to contend with extreme weather conditions as the first hurricane of the 2021 season—Hurricane Elsa—formed Friday morning and is projected to hit south Florida by the middle of next week. Local officials have braced for their search and rescue efforts to be impacted. “We’ll keep watching and we’re prepared to deal with the impacts of the tropical storm,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Sunday press conference.