The remainder of the partially collapsed condo in Surfside, Florida—where 24 people are confirmed dead so far—was demolished on Sunday night ahead of the arrival of a tropical storm in the region, however, search-and-rescue efforts for the 121 people who still remain unaccounted is expected to resume soon.
The uncollapsed section of the Champlain Towers South was demolished around 10:30 pm local time on Sunday.
Ahead of the demolition, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters that search and rescue teams will resume their operations once the area has been deemed secure.
Residents in nearby buildings were not required to evacuate their homes but were asked to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioning to avoid dust and other particles which Cava said were an “unavoidable byproduct” of the demolition process.
Search efforts at the location were paused on Saturday afternoon to allow engineers to prepare the site for demolition.
Authorities have stated that the demolition was essential to allow further search and rescue work to be conducted safely as the precarious condition of the remaining structure posed a threat to rescue workers.
Authorities were forced to move swiftly on the demolition as Tropical Storm Elsa—with winds of up to 60 miles per hour and heavy rainfall—moves towards South Florida.
Just 30 minutes before the demolition, a county judge denied an emergency motion from a woman seeking to enter the building to rescue pets. According to the Miami Herald, the plaintiff said she had knowledge of a cat in one of the units in the still-standing portion of the tower. But the judge denied the petition citing the burden it would place on search and rescue efforts. Previously Cava said every effort had been made to rescue pets believed stuck in the remaining portion of the building but that no animals were found.
Rescue teams have been carefully scouring through the rubble of the collapsed building for over 11 days so far and in that time they have managed to recover the bodies of 24 decease individuals. Around 121 people still remain unaccounted for and the hope of finding anyone alive is fading rapidly as the last living person was pulled from the rubble on the day of the collapse itself. Local officials, however, have not given up, with Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett pointing to a BBC documentary “where they pulled a lady in Bangladesh out after 17 days…We’re not even near that.” Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to make landfall sometime later this week, which may further complicate rescue efforts. “We’ll keep watching and we’re prepared to deal with the impacts of the tropical storm,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a Sunday press conference.