Surfside condo collapse: Demolition of tower expected within hours; latest victim identified

SURFSIDE, Fla. — The remnants of Champlain Towers South will be brought down via controlled demolition either late Sunday or early Monday, opening up eventual new avenues for rescue teams to explore, Miami-Dade officials confirmed Sunday evening.

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Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a news briefing just after 7 p.m. Sunday that the “energetic felling” method will be employed to bring down the precarious structure sometime between 10 p.m. Sunday and 3 a.m. Monday.

The process uses “small, strategically placed explosives and relies on gravity to bring the building down in place,” containing the collapse with minimal disruption to surrounding structures, Levine Cava said.

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The demolition is slated to occur as Tropical Storm Elsa prepares to pass over Cuba Sunday night and eyes a potential second landfall along the western coast of Florida either Tuesday or Wednesday.

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In addition, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue teams have conducted three “full sweeps” of the collapse site seeking animals “that might have been in hiding.” The teams have also flown drones employing thermal imaging over the rubble pile in search of signs of animal life, she said.

“There are no animals remaining in the building,” Levine Cava said, noting rescue efforts among the rubble will resume “immediately” following the tower’s demolition.

Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade Police Department also confirmed the identity of another victim of the building’s collapse. The body of David Epstein, 58, was recovered Friday, the department stated.

To date, rescuers have confirmed 24 people died in the collapse, and 121 people remain unaccounted for. No one has been rescued alive since the first hours of the June 24 collapse.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.