Florida building collapse recalls deadly 1981 Kansas City hotel fall

The sudden pancaking of a 12-story Miami Beach condo building may end up being the deadliest, unintentional building collapse in America in decades.

Officials so far say only four people have died in the Champlain Towers collapse, while 159 are missing, but three days after the building’s devastating tumble, no more survivors have been found.

In 1981, 114 people were killed when two walkways, directly on top of each other, collapsed at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, and crashed into a tea dance being held in the lobby.

In addition to the dead, 216 were injured. Rescue personnel worked for 14 hours to free survivors buried under a tangled mess of steel, concrete and glass.

About 1,600 people had been gathered in the lobby, according to reports at the time.

The wreckage of two catwalks is scattered through the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, July 19, 1981, after a collapse on Friday night.  A fourth floor walkway  fell on to the second floor walkway, then both crashed onto a crowded dance floor in the lobby, killing over 100 people and injuring many more.
There were 114 people killed in the 1981 Kansas City hotel tragedy.
Pete Leabo/AP
The wreckage of two catwalks is scattered through the lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, July 19, 1981.
The incident in Kansas City also led to over 200 injuries.
Pete Leabo/AP
Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo.
Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Florida, after the building partially collapsed on June 24, 2021.
Gerald Herbert/AP

The final report from the investigation into the cause of the collapse said it was structural overload resulting from design flaws where “the walkways had only minimal capacity to resist their own weight.”

The Hyatt hotel collapse was the deadliest non‑deliberate structural failure in American history, and it was the deadliest structural collapse until planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11.

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