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Safety concerns halt rescue efforts at condo collapse site

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — Rescue efforts on the website of {a partially} collapsed Florida condominium constructing have been halted Thursday out of concern concerning the stability of the remaining construction, officers mentioned.

Search crews which have been atop the pile of rubble for the final week stopped work shortly after 2 a.m., Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava advised a information convention.

The stoppage got here on the identical day that crews and family members of these nonetheless lacking have been scheduled to fulfill with President Joe Biden in a go to that many hoped would supply some measure of consolation to a devastated group.

Biden and first woman Jill Biden deliberate to thank first responders and search and rescue groups. Additionally they deliberate to fulfill with the households of victims, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned.

The president’s go to comes per week after Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium constructing in Surfside, abruptly got here crashing down, leaving a pancaked rubble.

Searchers going by means of the ruins discovered the stays of six individuals Wednesday, bringing the variety of confirmed lifeless to 18. The variety of residents unaccounted for stands at 145.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez mentioned he hopes Biden’s go to can be a morale booster for the whole group.

“We’ve had a number of challenges from climate, sorrow, ache. And I feel that the president coming will carry some unity right here for our group, help, like our governor, our mayor, all of us collectively,” he mentioned.

Considerations remained that the nonetheless standing portion of the advanced might additionally collapse and work on the website appeared to have paused early Thursday. Throughout a gathering with households Wednesday, Miami-Dade Fireplace Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah mentioned officers are involved concerning the stability of that portion of the constructing.

“What we all know is that the columns on the east aspect of the constructing are sort of, of concern, not compromised, however excellent now of concern,” Jadallah mentioned. “Hypothetically, worst-case state of affairs: If these columns are really actually dangerous, we’re apprehensive they might collapse proper again into the parking storage.”

Households have been asking if they might add tensions rods however he mentioned structural engineers say that isn’t doable.

Psaki mentioned the president and first woman additionally wish to be sure that state and native officers have the assets and help they want beneath an emergency declaration permitted by Biden for Miami-Dade. She emphasised Wednesday that the White Home is being cautious to coordinate with officers on the bottom to make sure that Biden’s go to doesn’t do something to “draw back” from the continued search and rescue effort.

State Fireplace Marshal Jimmy Patronis mentioned he hopes to emphasise to Biden that there’s a want for psychological well being assets to deal with rescue employees for post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

“These guys are so blindly centered on the mission of saving lives, and sadly they see issues they will’t unsee,” Patronis mentioned.

“We wish to be sure that after they finally do go dwelling, that we’re giving them the power … to have the ability to get again to work with out concern of nightmares and challenges.”

For the reason that tragedy, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, a Democrat, have projected a united and cooperative entrance as they reply to the disaster.

Beforehand, they’d generally sparred over how greatest to answer the coronavirus outbreak, with clashes over sporting masks and different measures to regulate the pandemic. However no indicators of partisanship have been evident in Surfside.

DeSantis has spoken appreciatively of the help coming from Washington, even commending the Biden administration for “stepping as much as the plate.”

“We actually recognize having the help of the president,” DeSantis mentioned at a Friday information convention in Surfside — though hours earlier than, he had blasted President Joe Biden’s border insurance policies throughout an earlier press convention within the state’s Panhandle.

DeSantis, who’s up for reelection subsequent yr, is claimed to be exploring a run for the presidency in 2024.

Among the many stays discovered Wednesday have been these of a mom and her two daughters, ages 4 and 10, a loss that Cava known as “too nice to bear.”

Miami-Dade police recognized the kids as 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara, and their mom as 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez. The stays of their father, Marcus Guara, 52, have been pulled from the rubble Saturday and recognized Monday.

The reason for the collapse is beneath investigation. A 2018 engineering report discovered that the constructing’s ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had “main structural harm” and wanted intensive repairs. The report additionally discovered “considerable cracking” of concrete columns, beams and partitions within the parking storage.

Simply two months earlier than the constructing got here down, the president of its board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural issues recognized within the 2018 inspection had “gotten considerably worse” and that main repairs would price not less than $15.5 million. With bids for the work nonetheless pending, the constructing abruptly collapsed final Thursday.

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Related Press writers Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami and Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee contributed to this report.

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