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Authorities to completely demolish Miami condo as death toll climbs

Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah tells family members during a morning briefing that the building would be brought down “as soon as possible. First thing tomorrow” as official death toll continues to climb.

Search and rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed Florida condominium complex in Surfside, Miami, US, in this handout image July 2, 2021.
Search and rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed Florida condominium complex in Surfside, Miami, US, in this handout image July 2, 2021. (Reuters)

A top Miami-Dade fire official has told family members of people missing in the rubble of a collapsed condo building that demolition workers planned to bring down the remainder of the building on Sunday.

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Worries have intensified over the past week that the damaged structure could come tumbling down on its own, endangering the crews below and complicating the search for victims.

Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah on Saturday told family members during a morning briefing that the building would be brought down “as soon as possible. First thing tomorrow.”

But he cautioned that there “may be some hiccups.” A follow-up meeting will be held in the afternoon to finalise details of the demolition, which could be a precarious operation as experts enter the building to bore into the structure to install explosives.

Concerns that the still-standing portion could tumble have curtailed the search in areas close to that section, and shifts detected by monitors early on Thursday prompted a 15-hour suspension of the entire search until engineers determined the site was safe to restart.

Jadallah said the remnants of the demolished building would be removed immediately after with the intent of giving rescuers access for the first time to parts of the garage area that is a focus of the search.

Mayor: 2 more bodies recovered

Such access could give officials a clearer picture of the voids that might exist in the rubble and could possibly harbour survivors.

No one has been rescued since the first hours after the June 24 collapse. The approach of Hurricane Elsa from the Caribbean Sea also raises concerns that strong winds possible in South Florida by late Sunday or early Monday could further destabilise the standing portion of the towers.

Search and rescue personnel work atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building, where scores of victims remain missing more than a week after it partially collapsed, July 2, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.
Search and rescue personnel work atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building, where scores of victims remain missing more than a week after it partially collapsed, July 2, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP)

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said two more bodies were found in the rubble of a collapsed condo building, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 24. The number of people who remain unaccounted for in the collapse was 124.

The demolition of the building would temporarily suspend search operations, but officials hope not for long. Some families asked to be able to return to the building to retrieve personal belongings, but will not be allowed to do so.

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