Experts mull collapse of Surfside condominium as rescue efforts continue

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Florida homeowners may be nervous after the mysterious and tragic collapse of a 12-story Surfside apartment last week.

Local and government officials are continuing to investigate the disaster that led to the sudden collapse of at least 55 of the 136 apartments at Champlain Towers South around 1:30 am Thursday. One area of ​​investigation is the apparent danger of construction on quicksand found on a barrier island such as Miami Beach, especially when sea levels rise.

NBC News said that although quicksand has not yet been confirmed as the cause of the building’s collapse, scientists say it remains a major “engineering problem” in the region.

The Surfside Building was quite old, built in the early 1980s, but had no known structural problems. However, it recently underwent minor construction and roofing work and was reportedly involved in a 40-year building safety recertification process, which is a verification requirement set by Miami-Dade County officials. The Miami Herald reports that this process is in full swing to ensure the structural and electrical safety of buildings.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett insisted on NBC’s Today show that there was no obvious reason for the building to fall the way it did. He said that this could only happen if his underground supports were somehow eroded or eroded, or if a sinkhole formed.

“It looks like a bomb went off, but we’re pretty sure the bomb didn’t go off,” Burkett said.

Many engineers proposed that the failure in the ground may well be to blame. Funnels these are holes in the ground that slowly form in places where water accumulates without external drainage. With nowhere to go, water slowly trickles underground where it can dissolve bedrock, which is mostly water-soluble evaporating rocks like salt or gypsum, or carbonate rocks like dolomite or limestone. Eventually, a huge underground cave can form, causing the earth above it to suddenly collapse.

Florida is notorious for having more funnels than any other state in the United States. However, investigators say they are also looking into any possible building defects or maintenance errors that could have caused the disaster.

“Forty-year-old buildings aren’t just crumbling, but a series of buildings are lining up along and across the coastline,” said Peter Zalewski, director of Condo Vultures, South Florida. the property a market analysis company reported to NBC News.

The collapse is worrying because it is estimated that nearly $ 3 trillion worth of properties have been built on the barrier islands and coastal floodplains. Some scientists have long warned of the risks of building in these places due to the mixture of sand and mud that makes up the earth, which can change significantly over the course of several years.

Neighboring Surfside residents will be especially nervous as there are many residential towers around the same age in the city. All of them will need to be examined to ensure their structural integrity.

Some civil engineers say that the collapse of the building may not have occurred because the earth was literally being pushed out from under it. Greg Batista, a civil engineer who claimed to have worked at Champlain Towers many years ago, told CNN what specific repair problems and chipping can also cause buildings to fall. Flaking means that the surface of the concrete is flaking or cracking, which greatly reduces its strength. Batista said the problem of flaking just one concrete pillar might be enough to destroy the entire structure.

Local authorities said late Saturday that they are hoping to find more victims alive, buried in the rubble, but warned that the task of rescuing them is difficult. Some of the debris was still burning, making it difficult to find. It has been confirmed that five people have died and 159 are still missing.

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