, Fla. (AP) — According to a 2018 engineering report on the building, the oceanfront condominium building that collapsed near Miami
had “major structural damage” to a concrete structural slab beneath its pool deck that required extensive repair.
The report was among a slew of documents released by the city of Surfside on Saturday, as rescuers continued to sift through the building's rubble in search of any of the 159 people
who have yet to be found.
There were at least four fatalities.
While the engineering report from Morabito Consultants did not warn of imminent danger
from the damage — and it is unclear if any of the damage observed was responsible for the collapse — it did note the need for extensive and expensive repairs to address the building's systemic issues.
It claimed that the waterproofing beneath the pool deck had failed and that it had been laid flat rather than sloped, preventing water from draining away.
“The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas, and failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report said, recommending that the damaged slabs be replaced in a major repair.
The report also found "abundant cracking and spalling" of concrete columns, beams, and walls in the parking garage, some of which had minor damage, while others had exposed and deteriorating rebar.
It also stated that many of the building's previous attempts to repair columns and other damage with epoxy had been marred by poor workmanship and were failing.
According to the report, new cracks were radiating from previously repaired cracks beneath the pool deck “where the slab had been epoxy-injected.”
On Friday, rescuers used big machines, small buckets, drones, microphones, and their own hands to pick their way through the mountain of debris that was the 12-story Champlain Towers South
“I’m just praying for a miracle,” Rachel Spiegel said of her missing mother, 66-year-old Judy Spiegel, who lived on the sixth floor.
Jeanne Ugarte was coming to terms with what she feared was a tragic end for longtime friends
Juan and Ana Mora, as well as their son Juan Jr.
, who was visiting his parents in their tower condo.
“I know they won’t find them (alive) because it’s been too long,” Ugarte said.
The crews' ability to complete their grim, yet delicate task in Surfside, just a few miles north of Miami's South Beach, was critical to their hopes.
“Any time we hear a sound, we concentrate in that area,” Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said. “It could be just steel twisting, it could be debris raining down, but not specifically sounds of tapping or human voice.”
Two heavy cranes used large claws to remove debris from the pile Friday, creating a din of crashing glass and metal
as they picked up material and dumped it to the side while being buffeted by gusty winds and pelted by intermittent rain. A smoky haze rose from the site.
When the machines came to a halt, firefighters
wearing protective masks
and carrying red buckets climbed atop the pile to remove smaller pieces by hand in the hopes of finding spots where people might be trapped. In a parking garage, rescuers in knee-deep water used power tools to cut into the building from below.
Charles Burkett said crews were doing everything they could to save as many people as possible. “We don’t have a resource problem, we have a luck problem,” he said.
Officials said they still don't know how many residents or visitors were in the building when it collapsed, but they were looking for 159 people who were thought to be missing and could have been there.
Flowers left in tribute decorated a fence near the tower, and people waiting for news
about the search stood nearby, hands clasped and hugging, while congregants prayed at a nearby synagogue where some members were among the missing.
According to Miami-Dade Police
Director Freddy Ramirez, authorities are collaborating with the medical examiner's office to identify the bodies that have been discovered. Eleven injuries have been reported, with four people receiving treatment at hospitals.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said rescuers were putting themselves in "extreme danger" as they worked through the rubble.
“Debris is falling on them as they work,” she explained, adding that “we have structural engineers on-site to ensure that they are not injured, but they are continuing because they are so motivated.”
Jonah Handler, a teen
, was rescued from the rubble hours after the collapse, but his mother, Stacie Fang, died. Relatives issued a statement thanking everyone for their "sympathy, compassion, and support."
It said, "There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie."
While no cause for the early Thursday collapse was determined, Gov. Ron DeSantis
said a “definitive answer” was required in a timely manner. Video showed the center of the building appearing to collapse first, followed by a section closer to the beach.
This story was contributed to by Associated Press
writers Tim Reynolds and Ian Mader in Miami, Freida Frisaro and Kelli Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale
, Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama
, R.J. Rico in Atlanta
, and Adrian Sainz in Memphis