At least 9 dead after partial building collapse near Miami

By Zamira Rahim, Peter Wilkinson and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 6:28 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021
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12:57 a.m. ET, June 28, 2021

Survivors felt shaking during construction on nearby building, a Surfside commissioner says

From CNN's Brian Todd and Denis Royal in Surfside, FL and CNN's Hollie Silverman

Rescue workers continue to search through rubble at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach on June 27.
Rescue workers continue to search through rubble at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach on June 27. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

Eliana Salzhauer, one of three town commissioners for Surfside, Florida, said Sunday night that survivors of the Champlain Towers South collapse she encountered have said they felt shaking during construction on a nearby building in recent years.

Salzhauer also said a 2018 report completed by structural engineers was alarming.

Family members of people missing in the rubble, including Magaly Ramsey, daughter of missing Magaly Delgado, also told CNN their family members had been concerned about shaking from the nearby construction. 

A 2018 structural field survey indicated significant issues in the Champlain Towers South that collapsed Thursday.

The report, written by Morabito Consultants after a structural engineering inspection of the building, "detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete," and gave "an estimate of the probable costs to make the extensive and necessary repairs," a statement from the firm said Saturday.

A meeting was held with the condo association following the report. CNN has tried to obtain the minutes from that meeting but has not yet seen them. They were first reported by NPR. 

"In hindsight, reading that report is very damning. You read that report you go, 'My God. How could they miss this?'" Salzhauer said.

Salzhauer said some survivors told her they were bothered by all the shaking of their building that had occurred while a high-rise was being constructed next door. They told her there was shaking, cracking and water leaking in the garage, she said.

"They were very traumatized and shook up," she said, saying that she heard people saying the building "was shaking all the time," during the construction.

An email to the town’s building official, Ross Prieto, in 2019 from Mara Chouela, a member of the condo’s board, says she is concerned the nearby construction was “digging too close to our property.”

She said: “We have concerns regarding the structure of our building.”

Regarding the Champlain Towers North and East that are under a voluntary evacuation, Salzhauer said they have yet to find a reason for concern.

"We have not found an immediate life safety issue that would cause people to panic and run for their lives or we would have already evacuated. We don't want this to happen again," she said.

11:17 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

The names of four more victims of the partial building collapse have been released by police

From CNN's Rosa Flores in Surfside, FL and CNN’s Hollie Silverman

The identities of four additional deceased victims in the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building were released by Miami-Dade Police on Sunday night.

The victims were identified as Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Luis Bermudez, 26; Anna Ortiz, 46; and Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74, a tweet from the agency said.

Oliwkowicz, Bermudez, and Ortiz were all recovered Saturday while Elvira was recovered Sunday, according to the tweet.

One victim, Stacie Fang, 54, was publicly identified Friday while three more, Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel LaFont, 54, were identified Saturday night.

At least nine people were killed after the residential building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday. One victim remains unidentified, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said earlier during a Sunday night news briefing.

A total of 134 people have been accounted for while 152 remain unaccounted for, she said.

9:09 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Favorable weather and functional trench made for productive day at debris site, officials say

From CNN’s Keith Allen

Members of the Israel Rescuers delegation gather upon their arrival in the area near the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in the city of Surfside, Florida, on June 27.
Members of the Israel Rescuers delegation gather upon their arrival in the area near the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in the city of Surfside, Florida, on June 27. Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday evening that favorable weather and a functional trench through the debris site continues to provide her with optimism in the wake of Thursday’s partial building collapse.

Calling the search and rescue teams heroic, Levine Cava told reporters, "It's an inspiration to all of us, and to people all around the world. Their work, getting a fire and the smoke under control, was very pivotal, and the good weather today, were two very positive developments in the search, and they have allowed the search and rescue effort to move forward without some of the previous challenges that we have faced."

Cava and Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said that the trench that crews created by cutting through the rubble provided opportunities to suppress smoke and smoldering fires as well as create a higher level of access to aid in their search.

“They are actively working on the trench and it actually was extremely helpful for the location of bodies,” Levine Cava said.

The mayor also pleaded with families with missing loved ones to fill out police reports, as there are still some family members that detectives have not been able to reach and who have not opened police reports.

“The site is open 24 hours a day. We're taking DNA swabs from everybody at that location so if relatives come in, we will take DNA swabs and this will be critically important for identification,” Levine Cava said.

The mayor said she is overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from around the world, adding that the Support Surfside Fund has already raised more than $1.2 million.

9:07 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Surfside official assured residents Champlain Towers South building was in "very good shape" days after receiving report warning of "major structural damage"

From CNN's Casey Tolan

Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, in Surfside, Florida.
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, in Surfside, Florida. Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images

A Surfside town official assured residents of Champlain Towers South that their building was “in very good shape” at a November 2018 meeting, NPR reported Sunday -- even though the official had received a report warning of “major structural damage” to the tower two days earlier, according to emails released by the town and reviewed by CNN.

Rosendo Prieto, who worked as the town’s building official at the time, made the comments at a meeting of the tower’s condo association more than two years before the building’s collapse, according to NPR, which said it had obtained minutes from the meeting. 

“Structural engineer report was reviewed by Mr. Prieto,” the minutes cited by NPR said, in an apparent reference to a 2018 report from structural engineer Frank Morabito, which detailed cracking and dilapidating concrete in the parking garage underneath the tower, among other significant issues. “It appears the building is in very good shape,” the minutes noted, according to NPR.

A resident of the condo, Susana Alvarez, told NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday" that she attended the Nov. 15 meeting and remembered a representative of the town saying, “the building was not in bad shape.”  

Emails released by the town confirm Prieto attended the meeting. Prieto has not responded to requests for comment from CNN. 

Two days before the meeting took place, on Nov. 13, 2018, a member of the condo board, Mara Chouela, forwarded Prieto a copy of the structural engineer’s report, according to an email released by the town on Saturday. 

And the day after the meeting, Prieto sent another email to Guillermo Olmedillo, the former town manager, saying the condo board meeting “went very well.” 

“The response was very positive from everyone in the room,” Prieto wrote in the Nov. 16 email, which was released by the town Sunday evening. “All main concerns over their forty year recertification process were addressed.”

He wrote that the building -- which was built in 1981 -- didn’t have to start the recertification until 2021, “but they have decided to start the process early which I wholeheartedly endorse and wish that this trend would catch on with other properties.”

It’s unclear how much work had been done to repair the building before its collapse – or whether the issues identified in the 2018 report contributed to the disaster. Morabito Consultants, the engineering firm that produced the report, said in a statement Saturday that the condo association hired it in June 2020 to prepare plans for the 40-year restoration, and that “roof repairs were underway, but concrete restoration had not yet begun” when the building fell. 

Prieto no longer works for Surfside and currently serves as the interim building official for Doral, another city in Miami-Dade County, according to the Doral website and a county document.

8:59 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Family members of missing resident shouted her name during visit to debris site in hopes she'd hear them

From CNN's Faith Karimi

During a visit to the Champlain Towers debris site Sunday, relatives of missing resident Nicole Langsfeld took turns screaming out her name in hopes she'd hear them from beneath the rubble.

The somber scene came as family members of people who died or are still missing in the collapse in Surfside were taken to the site at Champlain Towers South earlier today.

Langsfeld and her husband, Luis, are among the more than 150 people who are currently unaccounted for as of Sunday evening.

Nicole's uncle told CNN that she loved animals, and "she would have moved an elephant into that condo if she could."

Two buses, led by a police escort, have transported family members to the debris site. There have been now three trips to the site to accommodate family members' visits.

“We are working with the families and there will be opportunity for visitation. It will be a very private event,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said earlier.

8:00 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Surfside mayor to release "every piece of correspondence" related to Champlain Towers condo

From CNN’s Keith Allen

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Sunday evening he will release all city documents related to Champlain Towers condo.

“I've asked our clerk and our city attorney and our city manager to dig out every piece of correspondence related to that building and put it on our website, so that's happening right now. And we're just going to put it out there and let y’all see it, and it's going to be what it’s going to be,” Burkett said during a news conference.

The mayor added that he hasn’t had a chance to review much of the available information while on-site, but said he reviewed a hard copy of a 2018 report during a break in his car.

"But beyond that, I haven't seen much," he said.

7:48 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Engineering firm to inspect other Champlain Towers buildings Tuesday, mayor says

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

CNN
CNN

An engineering firm will begin inspecting the other Champlain Towers buildings starting Tuesday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said during a news conference Sunday night.

The structural engineers will complete a "top to bottom forensic study" on the buildings using X-rays and ground penetrating radar to check on the safety of the structures, Burkett said.

Burkett had said Saturday that inspectors had done a cursory inspection and found no immediate concerns, but a deeper dive is needed.

Evacuation is still voluntary for those buildings, but people that want to be relocated during the inspection process will be able to stay somewhere else, Burkett said. One of the donors has earmarked funding for relocation expenses for those that want to stay somewhere else during the inspections.

7:05 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Four additional victims identified, 152 people still unaccounted for in collapse

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Wilfredo Lee/AP
Wilfredo Lee/AP

Investigators have identified an additional four victims pulled from the Champlain Towers South Condo building, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a Sunday night news briefing.

They are notifying the next of kin before releasing the identities, she said, and there are still nine confirmed fatalities in the collapse.

A total of 134 people have been accounted for while 152 remain unaccounted for, she said.

5:54 p.m. ET, June 27, 2021

Surfside mayor says he expects "miracles" and rescue operations will continue "until we pull everybody out"

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Search and Rescue teams continue to look for possible survivors on June 27 in Surfside, Florida.
Search and Rescue teams continue to look for possible survivors on June 27 in Surfside, Florida. Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Sunday that he is expecting miracles and will continue to support search and rescue operations until everyone is pulled out of the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo building.

"I expect miracles. I'm expecting many miracles," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "Newsroom" Sunday, adding "I think we all believe and expect miracles."

Burkett said the families of those still missing continue to receive twice daily briefings on the situation. "We had one this morning that was pretty emotional," he said.

He said the families were informed that the Israeli search and rescue team had arrived and that a team from Mexico would arrive tomorrow.

The issue isn't resources, but rather luck, he said.

"We have a full complement of very experienced search and rescue people. We have waves of them going over that rubble pile right now," Burkett told CNN. "We've got every resource that we could ever want."

"We got everything we need and more, we just need some luck and we had it. We were having the rains, we were having the fire. Those have both subsided and now its 100% focus on getting the people out of there," he explained.

Burkett said he's still hopeful as he's seen an article that said people have survived under rubble for up to 17 days.

The mayor added that the families of those still missing just want the search and rescue teams to do more. 

"We're doing exactly that. We have armies ready to go 24 hours a day 7 days a week," Burkett said. "It's not going to stop until we pull everybody out."