MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Eleven days after the Surfside building collapse, the remaining part of the building has been demolished over concerns the damaged structure was at risk of falling, endangering the crews below and preventing them from operating in some areas.
The Champlain Towers South building went down at 10:30 p.m. A number of explosions could be heard and then the building started to fall, sending up massive plumes of dust into the air in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The demolition was confined to the immediate area, and used gravity to bring the structure down in its place.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called the method of demolition “energetic felling,” during a Sunday evening news conference, describing it as a process that “uses small, strategically placed explosives and relies on gravity to bring the building down in place.”
CBS4 obtained this stunning video of the demolition from a boat just offshore.
Anyone living between 86th Street and 89th Street, Abbott Avenue and the shoreline were told to shelter in place between 7 p.m. until two hours after the demolition, whenever it occurs, the mayor said.
A secure perimeter has been set up to prevent people from getting too close to the collapse site. The “Blast Zone” is considered the area of detonation – a 300-foot radius around the center of the demolition.
Levine Cava is urged residents to stay indoors during demolition due to dust and cover any openings such as windows, doors, and air intakes that allow dust into apartments, houses or buildings. Air conditioners should be set to re-circulate.
In addition, if you live in the “Shelter in Place” Zone, you are urged to stay indoors, especially if you suffer from respiratory conditions that would be aggravated by dust.
Levine Cava also addressed the concerns people had that pets were still in the building.
She said she had made it “a priority since Day 1 to do absolutely everything possible to search for every animal.” She explained fire rescue crews have done three full sweeps, including searching in closets and under beds and in unsafe areas. In addition to setting live traps, first responders also used cameras and drones with thermal imaging. After all those measures, they did not find any pets.
WATCH: Sunday Evening’s Press Conference In Its Entirety
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the plan for the demolition was to bring the building down in a westward direction with the hope it leaves the pile of debris from the collapse unaffected.
Appearing on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” on CBS, Burkett underscored that authorities are still working with the mindset that this remains a rescue effort.
“It is absolutely not a recovery effort,” Burkett said, later adding, “There is nobody in charge really talking about stopping this rescue effort. And this rescue effort, as far as I’m concerned, will go on until everybody is pulled out of that debris.”
Officials wanted to demolish the remaining part of the condo building before any impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa are felt. The worry is that Elsa could have caused the remaining building to collapse onto the debris field.
Once the site is declared safe, rescue teams can get back to searching parts of the rubble that were previously off limits for safety purposes.
WATCH demolition from a different angle.
Search efforts have been paused since Saturday around 4 p.m. so engineers could secure the site and prepare for the demolition.
“As soon as the building is down and once the site is deemed secure, we will have our first responders back on the pile to immediately resume their work,” Levine Cava said Sunday night.
Rescuers are hoping the demolition will give them access for the first time to parts of the garage area that are a focus of interest, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah has said. That could give a clearer picture of voids that may exist in the rubble and could possibly harbor survivors.
The death toll is currently 24, with 121 unaccounted.
On Sunday, Miami-Dade police confirmed that the body of David Epstein, 58, was recovered on July 2.
Those who have been recovered from the rubble and identified are Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83 and Gladys Lozano, 79; Manuel LaFont, 54; Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74; Frank Kleiman, 55; Michael David Altman, 50; Hilda Noriega, 92; Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21; Anna Ortiz, 46, her son Luis Bermudez, 26; Anaely Rodriguez, 42; Marcus Guara, their children 10-year old Lucia Guara and four-year-old Emma Guara; Magaly Delgado, 80; Bonnie Epstein, 56; Claudio Bonnefoy, 85; Maira Obias-Bonnefoy, 69; Graciela Cattarossi, 48; Gonzalo Torre, 81, and a 7-year-old whose family did not want to be identified.
After search operations at the site were halted for most of the day on Thursday due to safety concerns about the building that is still standing at the site, plans are being made to demolish it.
Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund to assist families impacted by the collapse as well as help feed first responders. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund.
So far, they have raised more than $120,000.