International crews join Florida rescue effort amid claims of condo's "structural integrity problems"
First responders from across Florida are being joined by teams from Mexico and Israel in a joint effort to find any survivors in the rubble of an apartment building near Miami Beach.
The building partially collapsed early Thursday morning. After four days of painstaking efforts, rescue workers have found nine bodies. More than 150 people are still unaccounted for.
International rescue crews are working fast, but carefully. One wrong move could mean another disaster, according to officials.
"We need to be sure that the pile does not fall on them, that it does not fall on any possible survivors," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press conference.
First responders have dug a trench beneath the rubble — so far it is 125 feet long and 40 feet deep.
An Israeli search and rescue team hopes to save people here just like they did after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, when crews found people eight days after the disaster.
Families of the missing were escorted to the disaster site for the first time Sunday.
Meanwhile, questions remain about structural problems with the partially-collapsed building.
An assessment done by engineers in 2018 looked at, among other things, the building's parking garage. It found "abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls."
Though some of the damage is minor, attorney Brad Sohn — who is representing at least a dozen victims and was the first to file a lawsuit the day of the collapse — said the concrete deterioration should have "absolutely" been repaired in a timely manner.
"Why wasn't it? Timely can't possibly mean more than two and a half years later," he told CBS News' David Begnaud.
"The association knew or should have known that there were structural integrity problems. It should have been addressed at the time that they became aware," he said.
Also in the report, "the main issue with this building structure is that the entrance drive/pool deck/planter waterproofing is laid on a flat structure." There was no slope for drainage, so the water had to evaporate.
William Espinosa, who was a maintenance manager in the building in the late 90s, recalled the conditions.
"Water would just basically sit there and then it would just seep downward," he said. "I would think, where does this water go? Because it had to go in through somewhere."
A foot or two of the water would cover the parking lot alone.
However, experts are warning people not to rush to conclusions. One engineer who spoke with CBS News said nothing in the 2018 report suggested a catastrophe of this magnitude could be happening.
A lawyer for the condo association says the 2018 report called for repairs work, but nothing suggested the building was at risk of collapse.
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