“The role of building owners and architects and engineers and inspectors and safety professionals is to make sure that buildings are safe for their occupants to be in,” said lawyer Jeffrey Goodman.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Florida officials decided Wednesday to stop the search-and-rescue efforts at the site of the residential tower that collapsed two weeks ago, in the belief that no one could still be alive under the tons of rubble.
There had been faint hope that new “voids” where survivors would be found after the rest of the dangerously unstable condo was brought down in a controlled demolition Sunday night. Probes into the newly accessible areas failed, however, and instead of searching for possible air pockets and using rescue dogs and sonar equipment, the work teams will now be digging to recover as many human remains as possible.
So far, 54 bodies have been recovered while 86 victims are unaccounted for after a large section of Champlains Towers South in Surfside came down in the middle of the night on June 24. The only live casualties were found in the first few hours after the collapse.
A few hundred rescue workers and members of the public marked the official transition to recovery mode at midnight with a moment of silence and prayer. Hard hats were doffed and heads were bowed in sorrow near the site of the tragedy.
Well over 100 tons of concrete, steel and other debris have already been removed from the site in the round-the-clock search efforts. The work to clear it completely is now expected to move much faster. A good portion is being stored as potential evidence for the civil and criminal investigations that that have already begun into the collapse of the oceanfront building.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed on behalf of several victims against the proprietors of the company that owned Champlain Towers South for failing to ensure the building’s safety. One of the lawyers involved hinted that many people could end up being targets of his firm.
“The role of building owners and architects and engineers and inspectors and safety professionals is to make sure that buildings are safe for their occupants to be in,” Jeffrey Goodman told Fox News. His firm is also planning to add the town of Surfside itself to their list of defendants in the incipient case, said the report.
The association that ran the condominium was in the middle of preparing for the local safety recertification mandated for 40-year-old buildings when the collapse occurred. It was known since a 2018 engineer’s report that there was evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete below the pool deck and “abundant” cracks in the columns and walls of the underground parking garage.
The report did not say that the repairs had to be done immediately, only “in a timely fashion,” and the association had waited – too long, as it turned out.
A possible reason for the hesitation was the hefty price tag of fixing the building, which was expected to run into millions of dollars.