The 12-story Miami condo building that collapsed on Thursday had reportedly been progressively structurally unsound sine the 1990s, according to a study published in 2020.
The Surfside beachfront building was built in 1981 and had been slowly sinking into the ground since at least the 1990s, concluded a study by Shimon Wdowinsky, a Florida International University professor, reported the New York Post.
As part of his study looking into structural soundness in the city of Miami, he found that the Champlain Towers South building had been sinking 2 mm a year into the ground since the 1990s.
“I looked at it this morning and said, ‘Oh my G-d.’ We did detect that,” he told USA Today.
His research studied the areas of Miami that were sinking, in order to determine how coastal flooding could impact various parts of the city.
“We saw this building had some kind of unusual movement,” he said.
The study, however, focused mainly on flooding hazards and not engineering issues and so the “12-story condominium” was only mentioned on one line, according to USA Today.
Wdowinsky said that he didn’t think any officials at any level of government would have been aware of his study’s conclusions.
On Thursday, Surfside officials stated that the condo tower had been in the process of undergoing a mandated 40-year Miami-Dade county rectification inspection. The procedure looks for electrical and structural issues.
In an interview with local TV station WPLG, City Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer said that the inspection had not discovered any issues, as far as she knew. An inspector may have been working on the building as recently as Wednesday.
“I want to know why this happened,” Salzhauer said. “That’s really the only question. … And can it happen again? Are any other of our buildings in town in jeopardy?”
Work had also been ongoing on the roof of the building.
Bruce Masia of KW Property Management & Consulting said in an interview with Biz Journal that the current roof work could have potentially weighted the roof down enough to cause the building to collapse.
In that case, an investigation would be needed into why the building was unable to handle the added weight.
'Buildings don't fall down right away,” he said. “They fall down because there are problems and those problems need attention.”
The latest figures point to the incomprehensible scope of the unfolding tragedy. At least 4 people are dead and 159 people are unaccounted for in the rubble, with 120 building residents accounted for so far.
Thirty-five people have so far been rescued from the collapsed building, while two people were discovered and removed from the rubble. One of them was a boy.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)