Collapsed building in Florida: anger roars over failed search

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The search for survivors continued on Friday in the rubble of the collapsed building in Surfside, Florida. In vain. Faced with this failure, emerge the anger and frustration of the relatives of the disappeared who demand that the authorities shed light on the causes of the disaster.

After the fright, it is the anger which dominates Friday, June 25 in Surfside (Florida), where a building collapsed, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday. Local authorities claim to have deployed hundreds of firefighters and rescuers to find survivors among the rubble of Champlain Towers, a twelve-story building. The death toll is so far four dead and 159 missing.

“Unfortunately, the numbers are the same as this morning,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at a press conference. “We haven’t found anyone else in the digs today, but we will continue the search tonight and God willing there will be good news later that night or tomorrow morning.”

Teams searched Friday the pile of concrete and scrap on the surface and in the basement, firefighters pierced the walls hoping to free survivors, facing difficult weather conditions.

But the more the hours pass, the more impatience and anger are felt among the relatives of the missing.

Family frustration

“This site here, for which we are told that there were hundreds of workers evacuating people and trying to rescue them, it is absolutely not a rescue operation, it is nothing”, launches Maurice Wachsmann who, from his balcony, has a direct view of the rubble. His best friend, Chaim Rosenberg, and his son and daughter-in-law are missing.

With Mr. Rosenberg’s nephew, Mike Salberg, he left New York a few hours after the disaster and rented an apartment in the building adjacent to Champlain Towers, with a direct view of the operations. “Not a single rescuer has tried to remove the debris, little by little, even by hand, without a machine to potentially evacuate people,” he says, believing that survivors can be trapped in pockets of ‘air.

The authorities say they understand the frustration of families. “We give them information twice a day with details on the operations,” assured Daniella Levine Cava.

“There is still hope,” she said, noting that victims of a disaster had already been found alive “a week after” such a tragedy.

Explanations demanded

Other survivors ask for explanations of a possible structural weakness of the building. According to a 2020 study, it had suffered a “very subtle” sag in the 1990s.

Janette Aguero, 46, was staying with her husband and two children on the 11th floor of the building, on the street side, on the night of the tragedy. Awakened by what she felt like “an earthquake”, she and her family ran down the stairs to escape. “I’m lucky to have made it out, but I want answers,” she said. “The families of the victims deserve it, and someone has to be held responsible if there has been negligence. Someone has to pay.”

The victims “have a right to know” why the building collapsed, admitted the governor of this southern state of the United States, Ron DeSantis. “We don’t want to give a wrong explanation, but it is also important to bring it without delay because there are many families (…) who have lost loved ones.”

“It’s a very, very difficult time. There are so many people waiting, are they alive, what’s going to happen?” Whispered Joe Biden from the White House. The Democratic president earlier in the day declared a state of emergency in order to provide federal assistance for emergency relief and resettlement operations.

With AFP

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