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Monday, July 26, 2021
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Second Florida building evacuated as death toll rises to 22 in condo tower collapse

Local officials in North Miami Beach ordered a residential complex evacuated after deeming it unsafe on Friday (July 2), as the death toll rose to 22 from the collapse of the Surfside, Florida condominium tower and the remains of four more victims were found in the rubble

All residents of the second building, Crestview Towers, were told to leave immediately after engineers found serious concrete and electrical problems, said Arthur Sorey, city manager for North Miami Beach.

The move was considered urgent due to the approach of Hurricane Isla, which is forecast to hit Florida as early as Monday. The building’s owners had not yet begun a mandatory safety recertification process required 40 years after it was built, he said.

“It’s definitely not an easy decision,” Sorey said. “It’s just the right thing to do during these times. It’s uncertain what’s going to happen with the storm.”

The latest remains recovered from the rubble left behind by the 12-story Champlain Towers South in nearby Surfside left 126 people listed as still missing and feared dead. No survivors have been pulled alive from the ruins since the first few hours after the tower partially caved in on itself early on June 24.

The number of people on the missing list dropped by 17 from Thursday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters, saying that the totals were “fluid” and sometimes revised through work by investigators.

Levine Cava said she had signed a demolition order for a remaining section of the tower over worries that it was dangerously unstable halted search and rescue efforts at the scene for much of Thursday.

The operation was scaled back on Friday to three of the nine grids mapped out across the debris field.

Crews also sought to make progress before the expected arrival of Elsa, which strengthened into the first hurricane of the 2021 season on Friday as it churned in the Caribbean Sea.

The storm could approach South Florida as early as Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Molleda told reporters, with tropical storm-force winds possible on Sunday. Elsa’s forecast path remains uncertain.

(Production: Soren Larson)

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