Florida deaths rise to five, 156 more missing

The death toll due to the collapse of an apartment complex on Thursday north of Miami has risen from four to five. Today, our search and rescue teams found another body in the rubble and some human remains, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade at a press conference.

With the identification of three previously secured bodies, the number of missing persons has decline from 159 to 156, it is not known of these people whether they were present in the premises and are now under the debris or if they were not there at all. Our top priority is to keep searching and saving as many people as possible, the mayor said.

Sun and rain

The quest is not only a race against the clock, but also a fight against the elements. Rescue workers first stood in the scorching sun on Friday and then faced heavy rain showers. This required measures to prevent parts of the disaster site from flooding.

Researchers have not yet been able to identify the cause of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South apartment complex, partly because the researchers do not yet have full access to the disaster site. Experts expect the investigation to determine the cause of the collapse may take months to come.

Warning

Three years ago, an engineer warned about major structural damage to the building. According to a report revised by the New York Times, it included damage to the concrete foundation under the pool and an abundance of cracking and crumbling of the pillars, beams and walls of the parking garage underneath the 13-storey complex. The damage is presumably caused by years of exposure to the salt sea air along the coast of South Florida.

At the time, the engineer, Frank Morabitoa, urged the buildings management for early repairs. On the night of Wednesday to Thursday, just before the previously advised repairs would take place, the apartment building collapsed.