Emergency workers are looking for survivors in the rubble of a 12-story building that collapsed near Miami this week.
A fire still burning in the ruins of a 12-story building that collapsed near the American city of Miami this week has complicated rescue efforts, as officials say 159 people remain unaccounted for.
On Saturday, emergency workers continued to search for possible survivors under a mountain of rubble at the site of Thursday’s building collapse in Surfside, a city near Miami, which left at least four people dead.
Lifeguards used infrared technology, water and foam to fight the fire, the source of which was unclear.
During a press conference, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said smoking has been the biggest challenge. He described the fire as “very deep” and said rescuers were facing “incredible difficulties” due to the flames.
“The stench is very thick,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis added, speaking alongside the mayor.
At noon, pungent smoke came out from a balcony on the second floor of the portion of the building that was still standing, while rescue workers unloaded the rubble to handle the dust.
“The biggest thing now is hope,” fire chief Alan Cominsky said. “It simply came to our notice then. It’s an extremely difficult situation. “
Meanwhile, a recently released report in 2018 showed that an engineer found evidence of significant structural damage under the pool roof and “concrete deterioration” in the condominium’s underground garage.
The engineer, Frank Morabito, warned that the waterproofing installed under the pool deck had failed due to a major design error.
“Failed waterproofing is causing significant structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas,” he wrote. “If waterproofing is not replaced in the near future, the extent of concrete deterioration will expand exponentially.”
It was not immediately known whether the damage described in the report was related in any way to the collapse of the building around 1:30 a.m. local time (5:30 GMT) on Thursday. The building had more than 130 units, about 80 of which were occupied, officials said. It looks like about half has collapsed.
Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro told Surfside on Saturday that investigators will include the engineer’s report in their investigation into what demolished the building.
“As a precaution, county officials say they are launching an immediate overhaul of all other buildings of similar or older age (it was a 40-year-old building) across the county,” Zhou-Castro said.
“But of course, as for those family members of the 159 possible souls still trapped under this rubble, it’s an agonizing wait, not just as they wait for answers to how this happened, but it’s most importantly, it responds to the destiny of their loved ones. ”
Rachel Spiegel’s mother, Judy Spiegel, 66, lived on the sixth floor of the building. Speaking alongside her siblings, she said Saturday that the family was “trying to support her.”
“I know my mom is a fighter,” Spiegel said. “I know he loves us. I know he doesn’t want to give up. So, you know, it’s the third day, so it’s hard. “