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News Article

Mexico Supports Relief Efforts After Miami’s Building Collapse

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 07/02/2021 - 17:30

Two Mexican rescue groups have traveled to Miami, Florida, to support relief efforts at the site where a 12-story apartment complex partially collapsed June 24. To date, 20 people have been declared dead and 128 are still unaccounted for.

The partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South seems to have been caused by structural damage, with footage of the accident showing that the central section collapsed first, followed by the north-facing central section just three seconds later. Five seconds after that, the east section crumbled. However, the building’s structural damage had been identified as early as 2018, when consultant engineer Frank Morabito found “alarming evidence of major structural damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the 12-story building,” according to the NYT. A second inspection document, also dated from 2018, pointed out critical errors in waterproofing and structural damage to the concrete.

Morabito’s report indicated that the waterproofing for the entrance drive, pool deck and planter did not drain, so the water would sink until it evaporated. “Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.” Morabito also identified infrastructure problems in the parking garage beneath the building, including “abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees” in the “concrete columns, beams and walls.”

USA Today reported that right after Morabito’s report, Ross Prieto, then the town of Surfside’s top building official claimed that “the building was in very good shape,” which seemed to pacify the residents and the condo associations.

On 2020, a team of researchers at Florida International University published a study on sinking lands in Miami, showing that most land was not sinking significantly with some exceptions at a few hot spots mainly in the western part of the city. “One area in the east stuck out as an exception: the exact spot where Champlain Tower South sat, “states the report. In January 2021, a letter from the collapsed building’s condo association's board president Jean Wodnicki detailed the scope of the repairs necessary and the potential costs.

On June 24, at approximately 1:25 am, the Champlain Towers South suddenly collapsed. The building had 136 residential units, of which 55 were destroyed. Efforts to rescue those trapped under the collapsed building began almost immediately and continue to this day.

Mexico has joined rescue efforts, with two groups of Mexican rescuers travelling to Surfside, Florida. The first group arrived last Friday and was composed of seven Mexicans who are part of the NGO Cadena. They are accompanied by a Pomsky dog that supports rescue operations. This team has Life Locator and Finder technology, a life detection system, reports El Universal. The group is also providing psychosocial support to the victims' families.

The second group is Topos Azteca, who arrived in Miami-Dade County on Monday. The Mexican Consul in Miami, Jonathan Chait, met with the Topos Azteca on Monday and tweeted: Honored to receive the #ToposAzteca team, specialists in situations of landslides and natural disasters.”

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst