Death toll rises to 5 in Miami building collapse

At least five people were confirmed dead and more than 150 people remained unaccounted for nearly three days after a condo tower near Miami came crashing down while people inside were sleeping.

A fire had hampered search efforts Saturday at the site of the collapsed apartment building in Surfside, Florida. Teams were using infrared technology, foam and water to fight the blaze, but it was very difficult to isolate its source and stop it, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference.

The smoke was the biggest barrier as searchers continued their around-the-clock effort to find any survivors. First responders believe it is still possible people will be found alive. There are crevices in the debris, allowing for airflow, said the mayor. 

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CBS Miami that he’d been given approval for voluntary evacuation of a nearby “sister building,” built by the same developer around the same time period, known as Champlain Tower North so that officials can do a comprehensive forensic analysis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at the press conference alongside Levine Cava, “I don’t know that there’s indications that there’s any problems with that building, but just given the similarities, given the same age, they think that that may be something.”

An engineering report from 2018 warned that the building that collapsed had major structural worries, Mark Strassman reported for “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” It is unclear if any of the issues in the report — from Morabito Consultants — caused the collapse, and it didn’t warn of imminent danger, although it said repairs were needed.

Waterproofing failed under the pool deck and wasn’t properly laid, so water didn’t drain, the report said. “The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replaced the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” it said. 

It also said there was “abundant cracking” in concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.  

Building Collapse Miami
A crane works at the site of the Champlain Towers South Condo building, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami.  Lynne Sladky / AP

Contributing: The Associated Press