8:31 AM PDT, July 5, 2021
The remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building was demolished Sunday night, giving search and rescue crews greater access to expand their search, officials said.
Explosives were set off just before 10:30 p.m. on Sunday as the high-rise building crumbled to the ground as clouds of gray smoke filled the air leaving piles of debris, as crowds watched from afar.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told the Associated Press after the demolition that search and rescue crew were given the go-ahead to resume their search.
“Bringing the building down in a controlled manner is critical to expanding our scope of the search, as you know, in the pile, and allowing us to search in the area closest to the building,” Levine Cava said at a news briefing, the New York Post reported.
At least 24 people had been confirmed dead and 121 people were still unaccounted for after the ocean-front condominium partially collapsed on June 24. No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse, CBS News reported.
On Saturday afternoon, search and rescue crews halted operation in order for crews to start the demolition process.
Levine Cava told the AP the demolition went “exactly as planned,” and said that she felt a sense of “relief” because the structure was not safe and had been hampering search efforts.
Search crews are hoping to get to a portion of the garage that is an area of focus that was not as accessible before the demolition. “We will go back to the debris pile, and we’ll begin our search and rescue efforts,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Albert Cominsky said, noting the search would begin once a new pathway into the initial rubble was secure, the AP reported.
On Thursday, a portion of the building shifted, prompting a 15-hour suspension in the work. That shift was one of the reasons the building was demolished. Tropical Storm Elsa was another concern, as the storm was heading to the South Florida area, according to reports.
The cause of the collapse is still unknown.