Condo Rescue Efforts Paused For Safety Concerns; More Than 140 Still Missing

Teams in Surfside, Florida, were forced to halt search and rescue operations at the collapsed condo site early Thursday out of concern that the rubble and remaining structure were too unstable. 

“We were forced to halt operations on the  collapse in the early hours of the morning due to structural concerns about the standing structure,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press conference Thursday morning. 

“The search and rescue operation will continue as soon as it is safe to do so,” she said, adding that families waiting for news on their loved ones have been informed as well. 

The pause comes a week after the Chaplain Towers South condo building in Miami-Dade County partially collapsed, trapping numerous residents and killing at least 18 people. More than 140 people remain unaccounted for, reports The New York Times.

While it’s unclear how long the pause will last, Miami Dade Fire and Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky described it as “temporary.”

Cominsky said on-site structural engineers had several concerns, including movement in a column that could cause damage to other support columns in the garage area if it fell, “slight movement” in the concrete slabs in the “north and south corner of the building,” and “movement in the debris pile” near the south end of the structure. 

“We’ve been working in a very very unsafe environment,” said Cominsky, who added that search and rescue teams couldn’t point to one specific “trigger” for the unstable movement he described in the debris pile.

This is a developing story. 

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