Search and rescue teams over the weekend sifted through the rubble of a collapsed condominium tower near Miami, while officials released emails from 2018 that included a warning from an engineer about “major structural damage” and that the tower needed $9 million in repairs.
A nine-page report from structural engineering firm Morabito Consultants in October 2018 was released (pdf) by the City of Surfside over the weekend, warning about the condition of the concreted structure.
“Abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams, and walls. Several sizable spalls were noted in both the topside of the entrance drive ramp and underside of the pool/entrance drive/planter slabs, which included instances with exposed, deteriorating rebar,” said the report. “Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion. All cracking and spalling located in the parking garage shall be repaired in accordance with the recommendations of ICRI [International Concrete Repair Institute].”
The death toll rose to five on Saturday after workers found a victim while they searched the rubble in Surfside, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters at a press conference.
“Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can,” she said late on Saturday night.
Authorities said they harbored hope that the 156 people who are unaccounted for may still be alive as firefighters on Saturday were able to sift through the smoldering rubble of Champlain Towers South.
“The biggest thing now is hope,” Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said, according to Reuters. “That’s what’s driving us. It’s an extremely difficult situation.”
Authorities over the weekend identified four of the victims as Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54, reported The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said over the weekend that he has spoken to Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett and is considering evaluating the nearby Champlain Towers North, regarded as a sister building to Champlain Towers South.
That sister building, the governor told reporters, “was built at the same time and with the same designer.” Previously, DeSantis made an emergency declaration over the collapse, which was then authorized by President Joe Biden.
In another interview, Burkett told CNN that he has recommended the sister building be evacuated pending a thorough structural investigation.
“Because I don’t think people need to live with the possibility or the thought that their” building may collapse, Burkett added. “It had the same developer, it probably had the same materials, they probably had the same plans, and people are asking me is the building safe, and I can’t tell them it is safe,” he said.
According to the Morabito Consultants report, the release of the 2018 cost estimate followed the earlier publication of another document from the firm showing the ground floor pool deck of the building was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed to be extensively repaired. That report also uncovered “abundant cracking and spalling” of concrete columns, beams, and walls in the parking garage.
The report did not warn of imminent danger from the damage, and it is unclear if any of the damage observed was responsible for the collapse of Champlain Towers South.
A resident of the building sued the owners of the Champlain Towers and alleged the outer walls were not being maintained. Matilde Fainstein filed for damages in the Miami-Dade Circuit Court and alleged the owners “failed to repair or negligently repaired the common elements and the outside walls of the building,” reported Business Insider last week.
And on June 25, what appears to be the first lawsuit related to last week’s partial collapse was filed. The Brad Sohn Law Firm confirmed it is suing the Champlain Towers on behalf of Manuel Drezner and others seeking $5 million in damages.
“According to public statements made by Defendant’s attorney Ken Direktor, ‘repair needs had been identified’ with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed,” said the complaint.
The Epoch Times has contacted the owners of the Champlain Towers for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times