US President Joe Biden will visit Surfside in Florida tomorrow, a week after a 12-story apartment building collapsed. Hundreds of rescuers continue to search the rubble, but hopes of finding survivors are dwindling.
In the meantime, it is becoming clear that too little has been done with the reports of structural damage to the building.
“We are committed 110 percent. But we are working in a tough situation.” Alan Cominsky, the chief of the Miami-Dade County Fire Department, wants to keep believing. But hopes of finding survivors are fading. The building collapsed like a pancake. Moreover, 1,300 tons of rubble have already been cleared, with little chance that there is still room anywhere where victims can survive for days.
Six days after the disaster, 149 people are still missing, the mayor said. In addition, 12 bodies have already been recovered. The state of Florida is hoping for additional people and resources from the federal government. But time is running out. In addition, severe weather is expected in the coming days, and possibly a tropical storm will hit the region. That will complicate the work even more.
President Biden’s visit to the disaster site tomorrow with his wife Jill proves that the collapse is considered a national drama. Many of the residents of the 55 collapsed apartments were of Hispanic origin. There are also said to be several victims of the Jewish community.
Several investigations into the cause of the disaster are now underway. The Florida court is seeking to find out what decisions were made that led to the collapse of the 12-story apartment building. In addition, there will be a “grand jury investigation”, with hearings.
But it already seems clear that warnings have repeatedly been ignored. According to US media, the owners received another letter in April. The owners association president warned that the damage to the building that had been identified in 2018 had “become much worse”. Calls were made for immediate repairs.
Among other things, the letter referred to damage to the concrete structure. Architects think that salt (sea) water may have damaged the steel structure of the reinforced concrete. The cost of the repairs was estimated at around $15 million. A 2018 inspection report had already warned of “major structural damage” to the building, including to the foundations and in the underground parking garage.