The United States government has approved the emergency declaration for the collapse of an apartment building in South Florida, in which four deaths have been recorded so far, although there are still hundreds of missing.
The declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate “all relief efforts to alleviate the difficulties and suffering caused.” FEMA will thus be able to mobilize and provide the equipment and resources to help in this emergency.
The 12-story oceanfront building has 136 apartments, and about 55 of them collapsed along the northeast corridor, according to Miami-Dade Fire Deputy Chief Raide Jadallah.
The building opened in 1981 and has just passed a mandatory 40-year inspection. According to experts, it will take months and perhaps years to determine the causes of the complete collapse of one of the building’s wings.
The Local 10 channel reported that the same Thursday the first lawsuit was filed against the Champlain Towers homeowners association, for 5 million dollars.
Rescue teams recovered three bodies of victims of the collapse bringing the death toll to four, as confirmed by the county mayor’s office, Daniella Levine Cava.
At the family reunification center that operates a few blocks from Champlain Towers, they are beginning to take DNA samples from people with missing relatives to facilitate identification when bodies are found in the rubble, reported the television channel NBC 6.
Rescue teams, led by Miami-Dade Firefighters, have tunnelled through the mountain of rubble from the building’s garage and are working with trained dogs and sonar teams to find signs of life.