The remaining section of a partially collapsed apartment block near Miami has been demolished over safety fears as a tropical storm approaches Florida. Explosive charges were used to bring down the last standing part of Champlain Towers South late on Sunday.
Part of the 12-storey block collapsed on 24 June. Twenty-four people are known to have died and 121 are missing. The remaining unstable structure, which contained no bodies, was demolished so search efforts could resume safely. Efforts to scour the rubble for victims following the initial collapse were suspended ahead of the planned demolition. They are expected to resume almost immediately. Authorities have said the unstable remaining structure poses a threat to search and rescue teams still at the scene, though hopes of finding anyone alive are fast diminishing. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the demolition schedule at a press conference, saying the operation would use “small, strategically placed explosives.” “The demolition itself is confined to the immediate area around the building,” she said. “However, there is dust and other particles that are an unavoidable byproduct of all types of demolition and, as a precautionary measure, we’re urging residents in the immediate vicinity to stay indoors.”
The families of the missing were told in advance of the decision to pause the search effort on Saturday as crews began preparations for the demolition. What caused the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South to crumble remains unclear. A 2018 inspection, however, warned of “major” design 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”.