Search efforts for survivors in the partially collapsed apartment block near Miami have been suspended ahead of the controlled demolition of the rest of the building.

Search efforts paused Saturday around 4 p.m. so engineers could secure the site and prepare for the demolition. Officials have said the demolition is crucial to allow authorities to continue to look for survivors safely. It eliminates the threat posed by the part of the structure that’s still standing.

The demolition team continued preparations Sunday morning. They’re racing against Tropical Storm Elsa, which is tracking toward South Florida with heavy rain and sustained winds of 60 mph.

The mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett, said strong winds in the coming days could bring down additional debris from the unstable structure, endangering the lives of the search teams.

“It was obvious that the building was a problem,” he said on Saturday, adding: “We agreed that the only solution for that problem was to eliminate it.”

“As soon as the preparation is ready, the site is secured and the team is ready to go, we will begin the demolition,” Miami-Dade County Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, said in a news conference Sunday morning. She said the “top priority is that the building come down as soon as possible … and as safely as possible.”

Officials did not provide a timeline for the demolition during the news conference Sunday morning. It’s already the 11th day since approximately 55 of the building’s 136 units collapsed early June 24, killing at least 24 people. As of Sunday, 121 people were still unaccounted for.

building demolition

Photo: Reuters

What Caused The Collapse?

The mayor signed a demolition order on Friday. There are no details about compensating the owners of the apartments affected.

Meanwhile, officials are investigating other tower blocks in the area for structural faults.

What caused the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South to crumble remains unclear. A 2018 inspection, however, warned of “major” design flaws in the original design.

The building association’s board has said it will appoint an “independent receiver… to oversee the legal and claims process”.