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Search in Florida condo building collapse stretches into sixth day

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Audio released of first responders at condo collapse
Audio released of first responders at condo c... 04:52

The search through a massive pile of rubble stretched into a sixth day on Tuesday as 149 people remain unaccounted for following last week's condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County said the death toll climbed to 12 after a body was discovered on Tuesday. 

No one has been pulled alive from the rubble since last Thursday, hours after the condominium crumbled in the middle of the night, but search teams are continuing their efforts in hopes of finding survivors. 

"As we come across small voids, that's where we continue to focus and continue moving and digging through deeper to see if we can find anything further," said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky.

While it's not clear what caused the building to collapse, there is concerning new information about possible structural damage.

An anonymous contractor shared photographs with the Miami Herald that show a wet floor, cracked concrete and severely-corroded rebar in the building's pool equipment room. The photos were taken just two days before the building fell, CBS News' David Begnaud reports. 

The contractor also reported deep standing water in the parking garage, just below the pool deck.

It's not known if either played a role in the collapse. 

 

Memorial walls popping up in Surfside

More memorial walls are appearing in Surfside, paying tribute to those who died in the rubble and those who are still missing, CBS Miami reports.

Nikky Garrido went to visit one of the memorial walls on Harding Avenue. As she saw the people's faces and read their names, she clung to hope that her prayers will be answered.

"I still have faith that somebody is going to be alive," she said.

At the walls, people are leaving kind messages, like, 'keep the faith', 'live for today, dream of tomorrow, learn from yesterday',' stay strong', 'you are in our hearts', 'we love you', and 'this too shall pass'.

The original memory wall is also on Harding just south of 88th Street in the shadow of the Champlain South Tower. It's even more filled with pictures and flowers. There are also posters with messages like "Super Grandma." Others are letting the world know their loved ones are missing — and loved.

"I thinking inside myself, 'I wish they find the people'," said neighbor Janith Canizalez. 

 

210 people are "working on the mound"

Miami-Dade County's Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Tuesday that 210 people are currently "working on the mound" as the search for survivors continues.

Teams include people from across Florida and around the world. They are continuing to work 12-hour shifts, and are being medically monitored while they conduct painstaking, grueling work, she said.  

210 people searching for collapse survivors 50:25
By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Biden to visit Surfside on Thursday

President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden are set to travel to Surfside, Florida, on Thursday, the White House announced.

Mr. Biden told reporters before leaving the White House for a trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin, earlier Tuesday that he hoped to visit the grieving community and would go "as soon as we can."

In a tweet Saturday, the president expressed his condolences for the families of the victims "as they grieve their lost loved ones and wait anxiously" amid search and rescue efforts. He said he spoke with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to offer federal resources and assistance.

By Melissa Quinn
 

April letter said concrete deterioration was "accelerating"

The condo board's president said in a letter to residents in April that concrete deterioration seen by an engineer in 2018 was "accelerating" and that damage in the garage had grown "significantly worse since the initial inspection."

The letter from Jean Wodnicki, president of the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, explained that the cost of work and repairs needed on the building rose from an estimated $9.128 million in 2018 to over $16 million as of April.

"For everyone, I acknowledge that we are talking about a huge project and a very large Assessment," Wodnicki wrote. "Your Board of Directors is working very hard to bring this project to fruition."

"We have discussed, debated, and argued for years now, and will continue to do so for years to come as different items come into play," Wodnicki wrote.

The needed repairs outlined in the letter referred to issues cited in the 2018 engineering report, by the firm Morabito Consultants. That report warned the building had major structural worries, although it didn't warn of imminent danger, and it is unclear if any of the issues in that report led to the building's collapse.

Read more here

 

Couple married for 59 years died in collapse

After Sergio Lozano, 56, had dinner at his parents' condo Wednesday night, they said their goodbyes and and he returned home to his own unit in the nearby Champlain Towers East in Surfside. His mom, Gladys Lozano, 79, had made his favorite dessert. His dad, Antonio Lozano, 83, was excited because his doctor said he could have his first drink in months after recovering from a surgery. This was the last time Lozano would see his parents.

Living by the beach had always been Antonio's dream, and they had it at Champlain Towers South. When he started having health problems, Sergio, the youngest of two siblings, said he'd purchased an apartment right near his parents to keep an eye on them and make sure he could be there in the event of a medical emergency.

Once in a while he'd find comfort in sitting on his balcony and watching his mom cook dinner while his father watched the news on television. "It was very endearing having them so close," he told CBS News.

Around 1:20 in the morning, Sergio Lozano was startled by a loud boom which he thought was a tornado, and he stepped out onto his balcony to bring the patio furniture inside. Instead of rain, he was hit by a staggering sight: billowing smoke and an expanse of night sky where his parents' condo building once stood.

He remembered turning to his wife: "'The building isn't there!' And she's yelling, 'What do you mean?' 'My parents' apartment is not there, it's gone!,' and I just ran downstairs to Collins [Avenue]," Lozano said.

Read more here 

By Natacha Larnaud
 

Photos taken before collapse show cracked concrete, corrosion

Newly-emerged photos could hold more information about what may have caused the catastrophic building collapse in Surfside, Florida.

An anonymous contractor shared the pictures with the Miami Herald, taken just two days before the collapse. They show a wet floor, cracked concrete and severely corroded rebar in the building's pool equipment room. The contractor also reported deep standing water in the building's parking garage, just below the pool deck.

It's not clear, however, if any of the conditions contributed to the tragedy.

1624973868740.png
The photos show a wet floor, cracked concrete and verily corroded rebar in the building's pool equipment room. Miami Herald

There are now questions over the stability of the other buildings in the complex. CBS News was told an engineering team hired by the town to investigate those buildings found no evidence of major structural damage that could lead to a similar catastrophe.

 

Miami Beach, North Bay Village cancel July 4 events

Miami Beach has canceled its Fire on the Fourth Festival on July 4 out of respect for the families and victims of the Surfside condo collapse. The outdoor festival, planned for Sunday, was to taken place at 72 Street and Collins Avenue to mark the nation's 245th birthday, CBS Miami reports.

Last Sunday, Miami Beach declared a state of emergency related to the collapse.

Miami Beach emergency responders were among the first on the scene and have continued to provide ongoing support. A significant portion of the staging for the emergency response efforts has taken place within Miami Beach, including the use of city streets, property and other facilities for search and rescue command centers, the use of city parking lots for personnel and equipment as well as the use of city property to support the significant media presence.

North Bay Village has also canceled their 4th of July Concert "out of respect and special consideration to the tragedy in our neighboring community, the Town of Surfside."

North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega's mother Hilda Noriega is among the missing in the collapse. 

 

Father mourns 26-year-old son who died in collapse

The last time Luis Bermudez saw his son, 26-year-old Luis "Luiyo" Andres Bermudez, was just before Father's Day.

"He telling me, 'Papi, don't worry. I'm not going to spend the day with you but all the days are your days.'"

The 26-year-old spent most of his life battling muscular dystrophy, with his father by his side, David Begnaud reports for "CBS This Morning." He had not walked since the age of nine, and survived heart surgery, a stroke, and a spinal cord injury, only to die when the building crumbled.

"And he was teaching me. That boy was in a wheelchair, in a bed all day, and he was teaching you how to live life and how to be happy," his father said.

"I miss him a lot. And I'm going to miss him every second of every day."

In the early morning on June 24, he was with his mother, Ana Ortiz, when the condo building collapsed. Their bodies were recovered on Saturday.

 

Most residents of sister building are staying put

About a block from the Miami-area beachfront condominium tower that collapsed sits its sister building, erected a year later by the same company, using the same materials and a similar design. It has faced the same tides and salty air.

This has made some residents of Champlain Towers North worried enough to leave, though most have remained, saying they are confident their almost 40-year-old, 12-story building is better maintained. They say their building doesn't have the same problems with cracking in support beams and in the pool area that 2018 engineering reports show the south tower had.

Inspectors performed a quick-hit examination of the north building and Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said nothing was found that indicates the tower is in danger of collapse.

Still, North tower residents who want to temporarily relocate are being offered federal assistance, just as survivors from the south tower are. But most residents interviewed Monday by the Associated Press are taking the position of Philip and Nora Zyne, who are staying put in their fifth-floor condo. The Zynes bought their condo 12 years ago, and have lived there full time for six. They have several friends and acquaintances who lived in the south tower and remain missing.

"I've never seen any major structural issues" in the north building, said Philip Zyne, an attorney. "I'm not worried at all right now. I do want to get a full structural engineering and forensic examination done."

Zyne said he's seen numerous inspectors in his building since the collapse, and only a small number of people packing up to go.

"It's not a mass exodus by any means. I'd say maybe a quarter of the building has left," he said.

By Associated Press
 

3 more victims identified

Authorities released the names of three victims on Monday night. They are: Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, Frank Kleiman, 55, and Michael David Altman, 50.

The other victims who have been recovered and identified are: 

  • Stacie Dawn Fang, 54 
  • Antonio Lozano, 83 
  • Gladys Lozano, 79 
  • Manuel LaFont, 54 
  • Leon Oliwkowicz, 80 
  • Luis Bermudez, 26 
  • Ana Ortiz, 46 
  • Christina Beatriz Elvira
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