MIAMI, FLORIDA — The confirmed death toll at the collapsed condominium complex north of Miami Beach rose to 28 on Monday, after search efforts resumed following the controlled demolition of the portion that had remained standing, according to The New York Times.
The search for more than 100 missing residents still missing in the wreckage of Champlain Towers South had been paused for a large part of the weekend due to growing concerns about the building’s stability.
Those concerns were exacerbated by the possible approach of Tropical Storm Elsa, which has been tracking toward South Florida with heavy rain and sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, according to CNN.
Before the demolition took place, the Miami-Dade County mayor said fire-rescue workers had searched the building to find left-behind pets, according to The Miami Herald.
Firefighters searched units in person and drones with thermal imaging cameras also looked through areas that could not be searched on foot.
On Saturday demolition experts began planting explosives inside concrete pillars within the building.
The goal, according to The Guardian, was to contain the building’s collapse within its immediate surroundings.
The successful implosion on Sunday evening allowed rescue workers to begin searching a previously inaccessible portion of the wreckage Monday, according to The Miami Herald.
The Guardian reports that rescuers are now making their way towards parts of the underground garage that are of “particular interest.” A 2018 engineer’s report described the flat surface above the garage as a ‘major error’ because it allowed water to build up on top of it.
This build-up caused ‘major structural damage’ to the concrete slab below, the report said.
Inside the parking garage, the report noted both cracks in columns and cracks to the ceiling, with some previous repairs to these cracks deemed unsuccessful due to “poor workmanship.” According to a letter published by The New York Times, earlier this year the president of the condominium association told residents that damage to the parking area had become “significantly worse” and repairs needed for the entire building would cost $15 million.
According to The Miami Herald, just 36 hours before the collapse, a private contractor said he saw large pools of standing water in the parking garage and was told by one building employee that they pumped the pool equipment room so frequently that pump motors had to be replaced every two years.
Morabito Consultants, the authors of the 2018 report, said that at the time of the collapse, roof repairs to the building had begun, but concrete restoration had not, according to the BBC.