Demolition experts imploded the rest of a partially collapsed condominium building in South Florida late Sunday in response to fears that it was unstable and could come down in the face of high winds from an advancing tropical storm.
It took a matter of seconds for the remaining structure to fall after the demolition was triggered around 10:30 p.m. local time. A cloud of dust and debris rose and lingered in the sky for a few minutes afterward.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told the Associated Press that the implosion went exactly as expected and that search crews, who had suspended their work Saturday, had been cleared to resume working at the collapse site.
“I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts,” she said. “We were stuck that we couldn’t get to a certain part of the pile. I’ve heard them say that they think there are voids in this area, areas where they’ll be able to search.”
Local officials had warned people in the area surrounding the building to stay inside and keep their windows closed. Extra efforts were made to cover the original collapse site to make sure new debris did not interfere with search-and-rescue efforts there.
The 12-story condominium building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami, partially collapsed June 24, and round-the-clock search operations were suspended Saturday in advance of the demolition.
The death toll stands at 24, with 121 people still unaccounted for. No one has been found alive since the earliest hours of the search.
Officials are watching the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center said they expect the center of the storm to pass near or over the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday. That track would spare Surfside from a direct hit, but forecasters still expect the region to experience strong winds with gusts of at least 65 kilometers per hour.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.