Six chilling unanswered questions from Miami condo collapse that killed 98 after mystery of children’s bunk beds solved | The Sun
24th June 2022

IN the early hours of June 24 2021, a Miami condo collapsed, killing 98 and leaving dozens of families grieving.

One year on, officials still don’t know what caused Champlain Towers South to crumple to the ground as several unanswered questions remain.



Photos of the wreckage went viral in the aftermath of the tragedy, including a photo that showed bunk beds teetering precariously from the building.

The public wondered if a child had been sleeping in the room when the condo fell to the ground.

It turned out that resident Linda Martin, of New York, used the bedroom as a home office, solving the mystery.

But, several unanswered questions remain – 12 months after America's single deadliest structural disaster not caused by terrorism.

WHAT CAUSED CHAMPLAIN TOWERS TO FALL?

Investigators have not established the cause of the condo collapse.

Workers from Morabito Consultants reported in October 2020 that they found extensive concrete damage and suspended repairs amid fears that the condo would collapse.

Repair work couldn't take place amid fears that it may have affected the stability of neighboring apartment blocks.

The Morabito team found a stairwell that had deteriorated and highlighted issues around the wall and swimming pool.

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It was caused by corrosion of the steel panels that expanded the rebar in the structure.

Dawn Lehman, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Washington, said: “This would have been one of the multiple problems that should have been addressed in the aging structure.

“It’s expensive to fix, and you can’t simply repair damage that is this extensive – you need to replace the damaged reinforcement and concrete.”

Ms Lehman said the deterioration of the steel beams is unlikely to be the sole cause of the collapse.

A 2018 engineer's report found "major structural issues" in the building and residents were told that the condo was "deteriorating".

It also revealed that there was a "major error" in the design of the building.

Investigators have scrambled for answers ever since the condo fell to the ground.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology are one of the parties leading the next stage of the investigation, WSVN reports.

Judith Mitrani-Reiser told the outlet: “It is very complex, and it’s unusual.

"We are all, like the public, desperate to find out the most probable cause of the initiation and collapse.”

She added: “Here you have a building that collapsed late in the evening hours without an obvious trigger and it really, I know, has stumped a lot of engineers.”

WHY WERE THREATS OVERLOOKED?

Scientists and geologists have examined the role of saltwater to see if it contributed to eroding the concrete of the building.

Because of the lack of clarity, several hypotheses have been speculated.

Diana Rodriguez, of Arizona State University, said Miami Beach is known as “ground zero” for sea level rise and is at risk of “chronic several flooding”.

Researchers at the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change predicts that sea level could rise between 10-17 inches by 2040.

Geologist Randall Parkinson was among scientists that found out rising sea levels push saltwater closer to the foundations of buildings, NBC News reported.

Parkinson stressed that threats such as saltwater didn’t cause Champlain Towers to fall, but fears the theory was missed.

He said: “You can see coastal erosion. You can see if you’re losing your shoreline and if your property gets flooded.

“But what you don’t see and what people really hadn’t begun to think a lot about, is everything that’s occurring hidden underground. It’s out of sight. Out of mind.”

WILL MORE BUILDINGS COLLAPSE?

Following the Champlain Towers disaster, a map revealed other areas in Miami where similar-style condos and buildings were at risk.

The study shows an area surrounding Park View Island is sinking at a rate of 2.3mm a year.

Sites in the Flamingo and Lummus area of South Beach are sinking, the map revealed.

Coastal flooding risks were identified in southwest South Beach and Miami Beach.

The report’s abstract warned that rising sea level had created an increased flooding hazard in communities such as Boston, Massachusetts, Norfolk, Virginia and Miami Beach.

It revealed: "In Miami Beach, subsidence at rates of 1–3 mm/yr occurred in a small portion of the territory, mainly in parts of the city built on reclaimed wetlands.”

The warning comes as storms and floods become more common due to climate change.

Forecasters warned that south Florida could've received up to 15 inches of rain as Tropical Storm Alex barreled through.

ARE INSPECTION DEADLINES REALISTIC?

Following the tragedy, the Florida legislature introduced a law that mandates structures to be inspected by licensed engineers and architects.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 4-D, requires inspections to be completed by December 31, 2024.

But, there are more than 2,000 condos in Palm Beach County alone that need inspecting, fueling concerns that the deadline may not be reached, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Lawyer Joshua Gerstin cited a Florida Bar report that revealed most of the state’s 30,000 condo associations are more than 30 years old.

He warned: “There is (sic) not enough architects and engineers to do all this work.”

WHERE WERE THE VICTIMS REMAINS?

First responders and rescuers worked tirelessly to recover the bodies of the victims as families waited for answers.

The recovery efforts lasted for about a month as Estelle Hedaya was confirmed as the 98th and final victim of the condo collapse on July 26, 2021.

Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said at the time: “In the end, crews found no evidence that anyone who was found dead had survived the initial collapse.”

But, some families just received small amounts of their relatives' remains’ when their bodies were recovered.

Hedaya’s family said they could easily lift her casket at her funeral.

Her best pal Lisa Shrem told the Washington Post: I could have lifted it with my pinkie.”

WAS THERE AN ALARM?

A timeline of the Champlain Towers condo collapse revealed that there was a seven-minute period between the pool deck collapsing and the building falling.

But, Iliana Monteagudo, who owned a unit in the building, claimed that a fire alarm or siren didn’t go off.

Monteagudo told the Miami Herald: “There was no alarm. That would’ve woken everyone up.”

And, Ring footage appeared to show that no alarm ever went off as debris started falling.

Former Miami Dade County fire chief William Bryson said it could’ve been crucial if an alarm went off and residents followed instructions.

The New York Times revealed that the building had a sophisticated warning system, but a security guard didn’t know how to activate it.

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The revelation emerged as security guards and residents were being interviewed.

Shamoka Furman said: “If I had known about it, I would have pressed it.”



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