Florida officials have announced plans to demolish the still-standing portion of Champlain Towers South condo building ahead of concerns that a tropical storm could impact the safety of rescue workers.
Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference on Saturday that the state would pay for costs of the demolition, which will take place within the next 36 hours.
Tropical Storm Elsa was expected to bring strong winds and heavy rainfall to the region at the beginning of this coming week – leading to stability concerns of the still-standing portion of the Miami building.
“This building is too unsafe to let people go back in,” Mr DeSantis said. “This could protect our search and rescue teams.”
“You’d hate to see there be another disaster out there if this building falls in the wrong way,” he added.
A contract was signed with Controlled Demolition, Inc. for the demolition to begin, said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Saturday.
“We’re doing everything we can to move forward with demolition as soon as we have a final path to do so,” Ms Cava said.
This comes after the mayor initially said on Friday that a demolition might not be possible ahead of the tropical storm. But meetings with demolition experts late Friday indicated the plan could take place.
“When we spoke at the press event, that was the best information we all had at the particular moment,” Ms Cava said.
Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members during a Saturday morning briefing that the building would be brought down “as soon as possible. First thing tomorrow.”
Officials intended to hold a follow-up meeting this afternoon to discuss the demolition plan and any potential issues that could arise by bringing down the rest of the Champlain Towers South building.
Concerns about the still-standing portion of the building has already impeded search and rescue efforts by officials.
Demolishing the remaining portion of the building would prevent search and rescue teams from looking for more victims, but officials said they hoped that temporary pause would not be long.
“The building poses a threat to public health and safety, and bringing it down as quickly as possible is critical to protect our community,” Ms Cava said.
The confirmed death toll from the building collapse stood at 24 people dead and 124 people missing.