Search resumes after demolition of the building in Miami, which could give access to new areas among the rubble

(CNN) – The rest of the Champlain Towers South building was demolished Sunday night and authorities hope it is now safer for rescue teams to expand their search with fewer reinforcements.

Search efforts, halted during the demolition, have resumed at the site, the Miami-Dade Fire Department said Monday morning.

The structure was demolished around 10:30 pm Sunday using a method that Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called “energy logging,” describing it as a process that “uses strategically placed small explosives and builds in gravity to bring the building down into place. “

The demolition came after part of the building collapsed early in the morning on June 24, collapsing approximately 55 of the building’s 136 units. Crews immediately began excavating up to 5 meters of concrete and confirmed that at least 24 people were killed, including girls. There are 121 people who are still missing.

With the threat of Tropical Storm Elsa looming, officials and rescue teams were increasingly concerned about the safety of those searching the rubble and the possibility of the rest of the structure collapsing.

“It seems as if the approaching storm could have been a blessing in disguise for us as it started the discussion about the demolition,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Sunday night. “We want to make sure we control which way the building falls and not in a hurricane, so I think all of this together ended up being a good thing.”

Burkett said he hopes the demolition will eliminate a potentially dangerous threat to workers and possibly open an estimated third of the remaining pile for search and rescue teams.

Search efforts at the partially collapsed building stopped around 4 p.m. Saturday so engineers could secure the site and prepare for demolition.

“As soon as the building is torn down and once the site is deemed safe, we will have our first responders back in the rubble pile to immediately resume their work,” Levine Cava said Sunday night.

Work resumed without five or seven members of the Israeli rescue team. Colonel Elad Edri, deputy commander of Israel’s National Rescue Unit, said earlier that the decision was made based on the capabilities of the equipment that will be needed after the demolition.

Residents were ordered to evacuate several buildings

Since the collapse, several buildings have been evacuated from the Miami area.

Before the demolition on the south tower, the Champlain Towers East condo board suggested residents evacuate, according to a letter from the condo association board of directors obtained by CNN.

The letter encouraged residents to evacuate early as nearby streets would be congested due to the demolition. The board also asked residents to take their pets and valuables, including passports and important documents.

“The foundation of our building has been checked several times, but we make this suggestion with great caution,” the letter says. “We don’t expect any impact for us, but you can’t be too careful under the circumstances.”

On Saturday, the city of Miami Beach ordered the evacuation of a residential building as a precaution after a city inspector looked at an empty unit and noted a “failure of the flooring system in that unit and excessive deflection in an exterior wall.” according to city spokeswoman Melissa Berthier.

The day before, North Miami Beach officials ordered the evacuation of Crestview Towers, saying the building was in arrears with its 40-year recertification. Officials cited the late certification report as saying the building was structurally and electrically unsafe.

Many Champlain Towers South residents whose condos did not collapse had to evacuate without many of their belongings, leaving clothing, valuables and family photographs behind.

On Sunday, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez III said homicide detectives had been “collecting items that they have been able to recover, and they are searching and documenting them.”

Any type of object that is safe to recover is being documented to “be addressed at a later date to family members,” he said.

24th victim identified

David Epstein, 58, has been identified as the 24 confirmed victim who died in the collapse. His body was recovered on Friday, authorities said.

The victims are between 4 and 92 years old.

Among those killed are 4 and 10-year-old sisters, an elderly couple and the daughter of a firefighter.

Nicole Mejias told CNN on Saturday that five of her family members were in the Champlain Towers South building when it collapsed, including 7-year-old Stella Cattarossi, daughter of the Miami firefighter. Cattarossi’s body was found Thursday night.

“We already miss them a lot, we wish this tragedy hadn’t happened and we will always remember them,” said Mej√≠as.

Tropical Storm Elsa

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 15 counties, including Miami-Dade County, on Saturday due to Tropical Storm Elsa.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Florida Keys and a tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of southwestern Florida as far north as Tampa Bay.

Surfside is no longer in Elsa’s forecast cone, but the area could still receive some rain from the storm.

The governor voiced support for the demolition plan ahead of Elsa’s impact, saying on Saturday that he believed it would be best if the building was torn down before the storm hits. “With these gusts potentially, it would create a really great danger.”

CNN’s Keith Allen, Jason Morris, Brian Todd, Rosa Flores, Sara Weisfeldt, Dakin Andone, Hollie Silverman, and Melissa Alonso contributed to this report.

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