The sudden collapse of the Champlain Towers’ South Tower in Surfside, a small town north of Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County, has currently left eleven dead and 150 people unaccounted for, with numbers fluctuating each day since the tragedy occurred last Thursday, June 25th.
Teams from Israel and Mexico have arrived to Miami to aid in the search and rescue mission at the Champlain Towers in Surfside, Miami Beach. As the search enters its fifth day, confirmed deaths are slowly rising while the number of unaccounted for remains high.
“This the largest deployment of task force resources in the state of Florida that’s not a hurricane,” said Jimmy Patronis, the state’s chief financial officer and fire marshal, in a statement he made on Monday.
There are as many rescuers actively searching through the buildings remains as there were during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, a category 5 hurricane that struck Florida in 2018.
The team faces a difficult challenge, as the tower collapsed in a manner that is difficult even for experts to handle.
They cannot simply lift individual floors out of the mass and search through what is underneath, as the buildings structure has broken into large chunks of steel and concrete debris, layering objects, furniture, and possibly survivors with heavy rubble.
The city of Surfside has begun to release emails that show that a 2018 assessment found “major structural issues” in the South Tower building that needed desperately to be fixed.
A contractor gave the condo’s board a $9 million dollar estimate on renovations necessary to make the building safe.
He stressed the risks inherent in the building’s state at the time, and the condo took out a $12 million dollar loan to begin repairs, but had yet not started when the collapse took place.
Investigators have isolated a point in the structure they believe led to the onset of the collapse. They are looking closely at the lower region of the building, in an area by the condo’s underground garage, that they believe may have buckled under the weight of the building.
This failure may have traveled through the structure like a domino effect, a phenomena known by engineers as “progressive collapse.”
The Miami building collapse affects the Greek Community
The collapse has profoundly affected the Latin American and Jewish communities of the town of Surfside and the greater Miami area, but the tragedy also touches the Greek community, as a young Greek American student named Andreas Giannitsopoulos is reportedly one of the 150 unaccounted for.
A total of 150 people are unaccounted for including the 21-year-old student at Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee.
The family of the missing student, originally from Xanthi, northern Greece, lives permanently in the state of Texas. His father, Costas Giannitsopoulos, told the Wall Street Journal that his son was visiting Miami and was staying with a family friend, who is also missing.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Giannitsopoulos is studying Business Strategy and International Markets.
Missing Greek American is an “excellent student and athlete”
His grandfather and namesake. Andreas Giannitsopoulos, speaking to ANT1, confirmed in a trembling voice that his grandson was among the missing.
“My son, Costas, did not reveal the news to me until today (Sunday) because I was going to have an operation on Monday. My grandson went to Miami for a vacation. He is an excellent student with a scholarship and an incredible athlete, a perfect character,” he told the Greek TV station.
The 21-year-old student, as his grandfather revealed, planned to visit Greece this summer for the first time.