It is the stuff of nightmares: mangled rebar, crumbled concrete, and the detritus-strewn cross-sections of formerly inhabitable apartments. A residential tower in Surfside, Florida, just a couple miles north of Miami Beach, partially collapsed earlier today. As it stands, four deaths have been reported and at least eight others are injured.
The 12-story condominium, the Champlain Towers South, was built in 1981 and houses 136 total residential units. In an interview with NBC Miami, Surfside mayor Charles Burkett noted that “the building has literally pancaked, it has gone down, and I mean there’s just feet in between stories where there were 10 feet.”
MBPD and @MiamiBeachFire are assisting the Town of Surfside at a partial building collapse located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida. Multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade are assisting. Please follow @MiamiDadeFire for updated information. pic.twitter.com/8tORIfZfjY
— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) June 24, 2021
More than 80 units from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue have responded to the collapse, and the rescue teams are still combing through the rubble for any further survivors. At least two people have already been pulled from the wreckage thus far, though 159 people are still unaccounted for. Over a dozen families have been relocated to nearby hotels.
The cause of the collapse is yet to be determined, though multiple sources reference ongoing roof work and a witness cited by The New York Times points to the presence of heavy equipment on the south tower over the last couple of weeks. However, as reported by USA Today, the tower was built on reclaimed wetlands, and according to studies conducted by Florida International University has been sinking at a rapid pace of two millimeters annually since the 1990s. That same article also notes that the building’s landlord has faced past lawsuits related to negligence and unaddressed water damage and cracks.
The tragedy follows just a day after the collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Washington D.C. that injured several people and increasingly dire assessments of the nation’s infrastructure and housing stock.
This story is breaking news, and AN will update the article as further information becomes available.