Florida authorities promise multiple condo collapse investigations
By TERRY SPENCER
SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) – Elected officials on Tuesday pledged to conduct multiple investigations into Florida oceanfront condo tower collapse, vowing to call a grand jury and take a close look “under all possible angles “to prevent any other building from experiencing catastrophic failure.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she and her staff will meet with experts in engineering, construction and geology, among others, to review building safety issues and develop recommendations “for guarantee that a tragedy like this will never happen again ”.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would pursue a grand jury investigation to examine the factors and decisions that led to the collapse of the 12-story Champlain South Towers at Surfside on Thursday. Another victim was found on Tuesday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 12, with 149 people missing.
Even as officials looked to the future to determine the cause of the collapse, they were determined to commit to continuing their efforts to find survivors.
On day six of a careful search, Governor Ron DeSantis spoke of a well-known military pledge to leave no one behind on the battlefield and pledged to do the same for those still missing in the rubble.
“The way I see it, as an old guy in the Navy, is that when someone goes missing in action, in the military, you go missing until you are found. let’s not stop the research, ”DeSantis told a newscast. conference.
“I think that’s what’s going on. These first responders are breaking their backs trying to find who they can. I think they’re going to keep doing that. They’ve been very selfless. They’ve risked it. make. .”
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett cited the case of a woman found alive 17 days after a garment factory collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1,000 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“No one is giving up hope here.… We are determined to get everyone out of this rubble heap,” Burkett said.
Also on Tuesday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit Surfside on Thursday.
Martin Langesfeld, whose sister, Nicole Langesfeld, 26, is missing in the collapse, also expressed hope that there are still survivors.
“We are not alone in this case. There is hope. I truly believe miracles are happening. Things like this have happened all over the world,” he said at the event. ‘a Monday night vigil on the beach near the collapsed building.
The collapse drew attention to the safety of older high-rise buildings in South Florida. Cava has ordered a 30-day audit to determine whether buildings 40 years of age or older meet a required recertification of their structural integrity, and that any issues raised by the inspections are being addressed.
On Tuesday, the mayor said building inspections found four balconies in a building in Miami-Dade County that “must be immediately closed for safety reasons.”
Previous South Florida grand juries have looked at other large-scale disasters, such as the 2018 pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University, which left six people dead. This investigation is ongoing.
Criminal charges in such cases are possible, such as the murder and third degree manslaughter charges laid in the 1996 ValuJet 592 crash that killed 110 people in the Everglades.
The work on the site was deliberate and dangerous. Debris fell on the search area overnight from the broken edge of the part of the building still standing. This forced rescuers to mark a “don’t go beyond here” line and focus their efforts on the parts of the debris pile that are further from the structure, Burkett told Miami TV station. WSVN.
Kevin Guthrie of the Florida Emergency Management Division said his agency has requested an additional search team. He said state officials wanted to rotate some of their teams so that they could be available for bad weather in the coming days.
Several members of an Israeli rescue team worked partly on all fours on Tuesday through a small section of the rubble, digging with shovels, pickaxes and saws. They removed the debris in buckets which were dumped into a metal construction bin, which was periodically lifted by a crane. The crane then delivered an empty bin.
Late in the afternoon, rescuers sounded a horn for the second time during the day’s work, signaling an approaching thunderstorm with lightning. Workers temporarily evacuated.
Authorities said it was still a search and rescue operation, but no one has been found alive for a few hours after Thursday’s collapse.
The crepe collapse of the building left layer upon layer of intertwined debris, frustrating efforts to reach anyone who could have survived in a pocket of space.
Authorities frequently meet with families to explain what they are doing and answer questions. They discussed how DNA matches are made to help identify the dead, how the next of kin will be contacted and explained in “extremely detailed” fashion how they search for the mound, the mayor said.
With this knowledge, Cava said, families draw their own conclusions.
“Some have more hope, others less, because we don’t have definitive answers. We give them the facts. We take them to the site,” she said. “They saw the operation. They now understand how it works, and they are preparing for the news, one way or another.”
Rachel Spiegel, whose 66-year-old mother Judy Spiegel is missing, said on Tuesday that she was hoping for a miracle, but she also wrote about looking beyond the tragedy.
“Our mother Judy was the glue that kept our family together. All the family memories, photos, clothes and heirlooms that our father and mother have collected over the past 65 years have been lost in seconds,” he said. Spiegel writes in a post about setting up a fund for charity in his mother’s name. “As we continue to search for meaning in this disaster, we must also look to the future and rebuild.”
In an SMS exchange with The Associated Press, she added, “Please keep praying for a miracle.”
Associated Press editors Kelli Kennedy in Miami, Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Fla., And Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Contributed to this report.