Miami building had 'major damage' before apartments collapsed 'killing 5' as 'human remains being pulled from rubble'
The 12-story Miami building that collapsed Thursday had “major structural damage” and demanded widespread repairs it was reported, while at least five people have been ruled dead and 159 remain missing.
“The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas,” according to a 2018 engineering report furnished by Morabito Consultants citing gross structural flaws of Champlain Towers South that required substantial repair of the damaged slabs.
“Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.”
The firm’s report was released by the city of Surfside and reported by the Associated Press while crews on Saturday were in a race against time attempting to pull any survivors from the monstrous rubble.
As of today, five people have been confirmed dead and Miami-Dade Daniella Levine Cara lowered the 150 people who remain unaccounted to 120.
All the while, teams of determined rescuers continue sifting through the shattered concrete mountain tapping for survivors to hopefully call out and confirm they are alive.
The teams are "concentrating resources" on areas where they hear sounds, officials said.
Dr. Howard Lieberman, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue trauma surgeon explained that the trapped survivors may have become less vocal in their pleas.
"As time’s running out they might be getting a little more sick or ill – not as vocal as before – but, like I said, we’re going to keep searching,” he told CNN.
"I think these guys, you know, that’s their mindset also, they’re just going to keep going, keep going, keep going until, like I said, every stone is turned over and all the rubble is removed."
The first victim of the collapse was Stacie Fang a mom who helped prop her 15-year-old son from the rubble to safety above.
The 54-year-old lifted from the debris succumbed to her wounds after she was treated at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center.
Her son, Jonah Handler, was rescued by firefighters right after the condo building came down.
That number of dead has climbed to five as of Saturday night.
Two missing in the rubble were identified as Antonio and Gladys Lozano, both in their 80s.
Their son informed the AP they had enjoyed a Thursday night family dinner together.
But the couple's son was woken up in the middle of the night to a tornado sounding ruckus.
When he gazed out the window he stared out at the condo building.
It wasn't standing.
The Medical Examiner’s Office was in the process of securing relatives' DNA samples to speed up the identification process, according to WPLG.
But the rescue mission may soon switch to a recovery mission as more human remains discoveries increase.
Notably, the existence of the engineering report has brought more scrutiny to the cause.
However, it never appears to have made any dire warning that there was any imminent danger from the damaged slabs, according to the AP.
Lawsuits have already begun to fly.
Attorney Brad Sohn batched his suit hours after the collapse and accused the condo’s homeowners association for negligence and claimed they “could have prevented the collapse of Champlain Towers South through the exercise of ordinary care, safety measures and oversight.”
An association did not respond to an AP request for comment on the lawsuit.
It’s still being determined what led to the collapse and so there is no certainty that the damage detailed in the report may have caused or played a part in the deadly collapse.
The firm found there was more minor issues with the parking lot concrete but some columns were described as showing exposed and aging rebar, according to the AP.
The firm also criticized the shoddy efforts to fix the columns in the past by patching it with a cheap epoxy bandaid.
The report reads that underneath the pool deck “where the slab had been epoxy-injected, new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks,” the AP reported.
Morabito Consultants verified the report’s authenticity and in a statement to the wire service added that there were “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public.”
The firm added Champlain Towers South hired them to begin secure a 40-year recertification process that would have involved extensive repairs.
“At the time of the building collapse, roof repairs were under way, but concrete restoration had not yet begun,” the statement said.
The roof work was being questioned by at least one resident, a lawyer named Barry Cohen, who said he escaped with his wife from the destroyed building.
He suggested the roof work could have created a “perfect storm” to help cause the structure’s destruction.
“They were doing a new roof,” he told the AP.
“And I think, all day long, the building was pounding and pounding and pounding.
“They’ve been doing it for over a month.’
Gregg Schlesinger, who is a lawyer and former construction project engineer who deals with construction issues suggested the lack of urgency to tend to these structural issues is inexcusable.
“The building speaks to us. It is telling us we have a serious problem,” Schlesinger told the AP after discussing the new findings in the firm’s three year old report.
“They (building managers) kicked the can down the road. The maintenance was improper.
“These were all red flags that needed to be addressed. They weren’t.”
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