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One dead, 99 missing after Florida beachfront condo collapses

48 Comments
By Gianrigo MARLETTA

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The morning news said that the land under the building had been sinking for years.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Wow, this doesn't happen often in developed country. Am very curious to know the cause.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

Tragic. I hope those affected make full and speedy recoveries insofar as that is possible.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Hope the insurance policies cover that.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Wow, this doesn't happen often in developed country. Am very curious to know the cause.

Florida is full of sink holes.

https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/faq/which-areas-are-most-risk-sinkholes

The state is full of underground rivers, caverns, and constantly changing erosion.

Here's a 2008 map of the known sinkholes http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/pages/11100/f11144/f11144.htm

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Build Back Better.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Hope the insurance policies cover that.

Sometimes it's better to say nothing

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Anyone remotely familiar with Florida knows that it's very prone to sinkholes and sinking foundations since the peninsula is essentially a giant sandbar.

The building was constructed in 1981, so likely didn't have the more modern foundation designs.

"When news broke of the collapse, Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, remembered a study he completed on the condo building in the 1990s. He found the tower was sinking 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s. 

"I looked at it this morning and said, 'Oh my god.' We did detect that," he said.

Wdowinski said his research is more than two decades old, and the sinking may have decreased or accelerated. "

It's a tragedy.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

This is why building codes need to be strict. Pundits like Dave Rubin think the government shouldn't be involved in this type of thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYotqgekKtU

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

When one's image of Miami is based on binge watching episodes of Miami Vice one is at a loss on how to process this news.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@kumadaijin: Pundits like Dave Rubin think the government shouldn't be involved in this type of thing. 

You do realize that the now collapsed building was built under the auspices of government building codes and was inspected and approved multiple times over decades by the government? I’m not saying that there should not be strict building codes and inspections- but these efforts aren’t fool proof either. Besides, we don’t even know yet whether the building collapsed due to structural flaws, a failure by government inspectors, or natural forces.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

MOST LIKELY WHAT HAPPENED - too many occupants were knocking out walls to get wide open spaces to "increase the value of the units" and someone near the 8th floor knocked out a critical support that caused the collapse.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

The bottom line is: The inspectors were not doing their jobs well. Japan has strict codes and America should have strict codes too. I think they do, however it varies from state to state.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

@Wolfpack: You do realize that the now collapsed building was built under the auspices of government building codes and was inspected and approved multiple times over decades by the government?

Yes, Florida actually has some of the strictest building codes along the Gulf Coast, but this building was 40 years old and built before regulations were tightened following Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I'm just trying to say you would see a lot more of this type of thing if pundits like Dave Rubin were in charge of things.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Very shocking especially so because America isn't some third world country. Buildings don't just collapse. Sub standard building materials. Where's the archtitect and builder?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Surfside also has a large Jewish population and several rabbis were at the scene to help with rescue operations.

I am not Jewish but I keep asking the same question.

Why is it that everytime journalist see a Jewish man with a beard in a black hat and coat they call them a "Rabbis".

The area has a large Orthodox Jewish community (Hasidislc) all the men dress in this way, they are not all Rabbis!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

This collapse actually has little to do with substandard building materials, but the lack of maintenance and inspection and enforcing that things get done. The building was sinking at a rate of 2mm per year in the 1990s. ANY building can collapse if the foundation isn't sound regardless of how well it was constructed. Again, the government needs to be more involved, not less.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

MOST LIKELY WHAT HAPPENED - too many occupants were knocking out walls to get wide open spaces to "increase the value of the units" and someone near the 8th floor knocked out a critical support that caused the collapse.

I doubt that.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

I wish more people are rescued from the rubble, it must be a distressing time for their families.

Florida has strict building codes, so difficult to understand how this could have happened.

We will know eventually!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The problem in North America is that there is no Federal building codes in the USA and in Canada the ones that exists are not legally binding unless/until they are adopted by the jurisdiction in each province the regulate construction.

In Japan the

The Japanese national code, the Building Standard Law of Japan (BSLJ), specifies design loads, allowable stresses, and other requirements, which each community can add their own requirements on top of the national standards.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I do not know the cause but what is true is that in almost the entire state of Florida the soil is limestone and due to the rise in the seas (global warming) that floor is like a Gruyère cheese full of holes, not to mention the infamous sinkholes that appear out of nowhere..

Terrible disaster, I hope they rescue as many people alive as possible..

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

"It was like a very bass-y, like boom boom, boom boom, that kind of thing,"

"Like, a ton of bass on a subwoofer, basically, like just two of them,"

Floridaman says what?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Our single storey condo a bit further up the coast is built from concrete including the roof. Still have memories of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Total wipeout.

After that hurricane Florida codes were increased.

Construction work was happening at the condo site including a new swimming pool. But it hadn't been inspected until the work was complete.

Florida Building Codes

https://floridabuilding.org/c/default.aspx

0 ( +3 / -3 )

America's massive neglect of "infrastructure" (in every sense of the term) is another "inconvenient truth" which is finally coming home to roost hitting the public purse where it really hurts - in the taxpayers' pocketbook. Oh, and for those with a memory like a sieve, a salutary reminder of another old "Trumpromise" never kept, unless you count the few miles of his "Great Wall" still unpaid for by the Mexicans.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

The building was being prepared for its 40-year anniversary of construction.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This particular building was built on reclaimed land. It has been reported that it had started to sink a few centimeters in recent years.

Due to the proximity to the ocean, salt water erosion has affected the foundation and is being investigated as the, or one of the causes, of the sudden collapse on this particular section of the building.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Hope people's home insurance will cover them otherwise it will be terrible losses.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Luxury apartments short walk to the beach. Other apartments in the same area should also be inspected.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

What do you expect when you build something like this, on Swampland.

The entire state is at Sea Level.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

RIP for those lost, Condolences to the families and a speedy recovery for the survivors.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Really @commanteer 11:20am? Somewhat unwarranted and callous ‘political’ commentary …

- responding to:[Wow, this doesn't happen often in developed country.] @11:20am: The USA is no longer a developed country. It's living off the fat of previous generations while all around it declines.” -

… rather than more appropriately on the loss of human lives and injured people?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

To your points, @zichi 9:01a & 11:18a, cheaper third world” contractor/developers, previously doing business in Florida in the 80’s-90’s may be a factor here:

- https://apnews.com/article/db1c71258ab9e7fa2faf87236d134066 -

Last seen in 2005, Brazilian developer/politician Sergio Naya allegedly took “cash on the courthouse steps” as then boasted by Westgate Resorts David Siegel for the ‘still standing’, yet renamed “Westgate Palace” twin-towers overlooking Universal Studios Orlando.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I watched a security camera video of the building fall down. There were lights on in some units that fell. Most people were probably sleeping but some were up. I cannot even imagine the horror of the event.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I follow the Avenger on this disaster : a sinking building does ot collapse but dynamic loads can make collapse the whole building if just one floor starts to collapse, with domino effect.

If a sinkhole, some warnings should have been noticed (ex : cracks increasing).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Everything in southern Florida suffers from humidity, tropical storms, and hurricanes. It’s not the commerce hub it used to be.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If the report that the land under the building had been sinking for years is true, as gokai_wo_maneku texts and yamada1043 details, then there's no doubt that the subsidence caused the collapse of the condo. Beachfront ground is too dangerous to construct a high-rise, especially if the ground is reclaimed land.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A terrible thing to happen. I hope the missing are all found alive and that they recover from their ordeal.

Reading the article, it struck me that in the middle of an account of a huge tragedy the writer took time out to list the different nationalities/ethnicities involved. Surely it doesn't matter if you're Latino, Jewish, WASP or green with antennae, when a building collapses with you inside it, that's the news story, not the wonderful diversity of the great state of Florida.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Maybe, the ground water contains much salt from the ocean which hastens the erosion of the foundation and the building itself.

My condolences to the bereaved.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And regardless of whom is to blame, if anyone is - one thing is clear. Gov. Desantis needs to focus more on issues like this, the pandemic and other important issues and quit taking the LORD's name in vain with his stupid 'school prayer' jive trying to win votes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It seems the building standard for high buildings in Japan is by far much stricter than in the States. You cannot construct a 12-story building with 130 units without a strong and deep fundament below it in Japan. The building must be strong enough to stand and not collapse in case of severe earthquakes, flood or because of a sinkhole below.

I don't know about even a single building of this size in Japan which collapsed suddenly out of nothing like this one in Florida.

I expect a lot of lawsuits in future against this construction company, sorry for those people who perished within this rubbish.

Sounds like a maintenance problem to me, such old buildings in Japan are often subject to follow up to newer construction standard to add additional diagonal metal bars to make them stronger. Sometimes also the fundament requires setting of additional concrete pillars deep into the ground to make it harder and more stable. The problem is that such maintenance of large old condominium buildings is anything but cheap, owners often reist to give permission and to pay for such costly safety related investments.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It seems the building standard for high buildings in Japan is by far much stricter than in the States. You cannot construct a 12-story building with 130 units without a strong and deep fundament below it in Japan. The building must be strong enough to stand and not collapse in case of severe earthquakes, flood or because of a sinkhole below.

Building codes are not uniform across the US. Building codes in the western US, especially California where large earthquakes are common, would be much closer to those in Japan. But the situation in Florida is different from California. Florida builds to withstand hurricanes, not earthquakes. A cinderblock Florida home with certain modern roof features now part of their building code does very well against the winds of a hurricane, but would be badly damaged by an earthquake. A California style wood frame home with sheer walls and a reinforced concrete slab foundation does really well in a large earthquake (we had back to back M6.4 and M7.1 quakes a day apart with no damage at all) but would be badly damaged in a hurricane.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I expect a lot of lawsuits in future against this construction company, sorry for those people who perished within this rubbish.

One of the complexities of this disaster will be determining who bears responsibility for the buildings upkeep. News articles say the building is a condo. That implies that there are aspects of the building the ownership of which are shared by all the occupants of the units in the building. There will be a Home Owners Association elected by the property owners and that HOA is responsible to the owners to maintain the property, it's insurance, hiring and supervising a management company, landscaping, etc. It may not be a case of a single owner owning the building, or even a corporation owning it. The owners of the individual units may share ownership of the building, grounds and any common amenities. I have rental properties in condo complexes with shared ownership of common areas where the HOA is responsible for exterior maintenance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Surfside Towers South, the building that fell apparently has 138 registered owners. The owners of the individual units are indeed the owners of the whole building. Sadly many are probably dead now. The tower that remains standing, Surfside Towers North, is newer and owned separately from the building that collapsed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"He found the tower was sinking 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s". this coment was made by a poster earlier, since they knew it was sinking, was the building monitored in any way shape or form? if it was detected early on that there was subsidence, it would seem logical to monitor it, if they didnt, is some one liable for NOT monitoring its movement? either way its a awful mess, I hope they find some more survivors pretty quickly as time is running out.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I Told you people, and this is common in Florida..

Collapsed Miami condo had been sinking into Earth as early as the 1990s, researchers say

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/collapsed-miami-condo-had-been-sinking-into-earth-as-early-as-the-1990s-researchers-say/ar-AALoUP0

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Good find Hervé L'Eisa. Thanks for the post.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"He found the tower was sinking 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s". this coment was made by a poster earlier, since they knew it was sinking, was the building monitored in any way shape or form? if it was detected early on that there was subsidence, it would seem logical to monitor it, if they didnt, is some one liable for NOT monitoring its movement? either way its a awful mess, I hope they find some more survivors pretty quickly as time is running out.

Any such monitoring would be a decision made by the Home Owners Association (HOA) through their Board of Directors (BOD). The building was owned by the owners of the individual units. Each owner has to pay the HOA monthly dues to cover the expenses of maintaining the building, the grounds and common areas and shared amenities. It is up to the residents through their BOD to make these decisions. Many times residents complain about high HOA dues and that limits how much maintenance the BOD can pay for. Stuff gets pushed off until it cannot be ignored any further. I have some personal hands on experience with HOA boards and know what goes on. Many times you cannot even get half the owners to vote when there are elections for new BOD members. One HOA I have a property in only has 3 of the 5 BOD seats filled. No one wants to be on the BOD because a couple of the long term members are simply toxic. You don't get paid to be on the BOD and few want to sit in a BOD meeting and get berated by these two, yet because so few run for the BOD they never get voted out. That is just one HOA. It will be interesting in the fullness of time to find out what was going on with the HOA for the building that just fell. The residents are ultimately responsible for that building through their elected BOD. Not the city or the county or anyone else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Being built in 1981 doesn't mean it was started then. Much of Southern Florida had many, many unfinished buildings that fell into bankruptcy at the time of the gas shortage and then were later completed...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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