- BBC News World
As the days pass and rescue work continues on the partially collapsed building in Miami, questions about how a 12-story building could collapse in a matter of 11 seconds multiply.
And also, new evidence and details are beginning to appear that will help experts determine the causes over time.
Since last weekend, the United States media have published documents that report a notable deterioration at the Champlain Tower South facilities.
It is the case of a letter sent in April past to the apartment owners in which it was alerted that the “deterioration of the concrete” was “accelerating” and that the damage “would begin to multiply exponentially”.
The letter, sent by Champlain Towers South Homeowners Association President Jean Wodnicki, was intended to explain to tenants why a 2018 renovation that had been estimated at about $ 9 million had increased to almost US $ 16 million three years later.
The Chaplain Towers South is a 12-story, 100-plus-unit condominium located on the oceanfront in North Miami Beach.
The building was completed in 1981, according to city data.
Since current regulations establish that constructions of this type must pass an inspection at 40 years to guarantee their habitability, the building was undergoing repairs to be able to be inspected by experts and obtain its recertification, according to local authorities.
An engineering consultant, Frank Morabito, had been hired in 2018 to do the initial assessment for the process and in his report at the time he indicated that there was “abundant cracks“and landslides in the building’s underground parking lot.
The inspection found severe damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck – to the point of noting that it had “out of service life” – and entry problems that were “causing significant structural damage to the structural concrete slab. below these areas. “
By 2021, Wodnicki mentioned in the April 9 letter, the building was in worse shape.
“The observable damage, as in the garage, has significantly worsened since the initial inspection“, he wrote in the letter, to which the newspaper first had access USA Today.
“When you can visually see the chipped (cracked) concrete, that means the rebar that holds it together is rusting and deteriorating below the surface,” said Wodnicki.
Wodnicki also noted that “concrete deterioration” was “accelerating” and that “the roof situation got a lot worse.”
“New problems have been identified. In addition, costs increase every year. This is how we have gone from the US $ 9,128,433.60 estimated in Frank Morabito’s 2018 report, to the much higher figure we have today,” he explained.
Wodnicki further warned that it was “impossible to know the extent of damage to the underlying rebar” until the concrete was broken open.
“Often the damage is more extensive than can be determined by inspecting the surface,” he added.
The letter to residents presented a bleaker picture of the building’s condition than they were given, they say, after the 2018 inspection.
Many of those who survived the collapse say they were told at the time that the building was “in very good condition.”
It is unclear whether the items identified in Wodnicki’s letter are linked to the collapse.
Experts warn that it is too early to draw hasty conclusions about the causes and recall that although the inspections determined “major structural damage”, they did not warn about the possibility of an imminent collapse.
This type of damage is frequent in old buildings and especially in those located in the area facing the sea and this does not necessarily imply that they are at risk of collapse.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.