Why are rescue efforts halted at Surfside building? Tropical storm Elsa might hit collapse site
Several on-site structural engineers issued warnings about the safety of first responders working beneath the Surfside building that is still standing
The search and rescue operations at the Miami condo tower have been stopped at the moment amid fears that the remaining structure might crumble down. The area around the building was cleared and the search for victims and survivors among the rubble was halted just after 2am on Thursday, July 1. Exactly a week ago the building had collapsed at 1.25am on June 24.
At a morning press briefing on July 1, officials said that several on-site structural engineers issued warnings about the safety of first responders working beneath the part of the structure that is still standing. Six to 12 inches of movement was noted in a large column that was hanging from the structure. Experts warned that it could fall and cause damage to supporting structures.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava informed in the Thursday morning press conference that 'structural concerns' led to the halting of the search and rescue operation. "We were forced to halt operations on the collapse in the early hours of the morning due to structural concerns about the standing structure. We're doing everything that we can to ensure that the safety of our first responders is paramount and to continue our search and rescue operations as soon as it is safe to do so," she said. "And our engineers are continuing to monitor the structure as we've paused operations to evaluate the situation and all possible options and next steps including with the assistance of the state engineers," she added.
The search and rescue operation suffered a blow as President Joe Biden paid a visit to Surfside, Florida, on July 1. Cava ensured that the disruption in search and rescue operation had nothing to do with the president's visit and insisted it will "continue as soon as it is safe to do so". She said, "The only reason for this pause is concerns about the standing structure. We've already informed the families this morning who were waiting about this development and we have worked to answer all of the questions that they have about the operation."
Another major factor contributing to the halt of search and rescue operations is that the collapse site is also in danger of being hammered by a tropical storm closing in across the Atlantic this week. Officials are facing the prospect of a tropical storm hitting Miami-Dade early next week. Tropical Storm Elsa formed over the tropical Atlantic early Thursday morning and all of South Florida is now in its potential path. National Hurricane Center forecasters said Elsa could take aim at Miami-Dade county by Monday, July 5. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that the state was "actively monitoring" the storm and coming up with contingency plans for if and when it strikes on Thursday morning. "Obviously the state meteorologist team is actively monitoring the storm and will continue to provide updates and our department of emergency management continues to implement contingency plans for potential tropical weather impacts including identifying alternate work facilities," he said.
The federal government has sent in a team of scientists and engineers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as questions continue as to what caused the 1980s building to suddenly collapse.