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An engineer shuffles hypotheses for the “progressive collapse” of a building in Florida

Miami, Jun 24 (.) .- A Florida structural engineer is considering various hypotheses about the causes of the “progressive collapse” of the building that collapsed this Thursday in Miami-Dade County, which has left at least 1 dead and a hundred missing as rescue teams continue their search through the rubble. Authorities remain focused on the search for survivors after the partial collapse this morning of the 12-story Champlain Towers South apartment building in the small town of Surfside, bordering Miami Beach. The building overlooking the sea collapsed in a matter of seconds and 55 of its 136 units were reduced to rubble, an event for which it will be necessary to wait a considerable time before hearing official versions about the causes. The structural engineer and professor at Florida International University (FIU) Joseph Philip Colaco developed some hypotheses about the accident, but warned . today that it is still premature to venture conclusions in the absence of data on the building, and especially on the works that they were made on the roof of the structure. PROGRESSIVE COLLAPSE Professor Colaco, who has contributed to the designs of some multi-million dollar projects in the United States, the Middle East and India, recalled that, according to the Mayor of Surfside himself, Charles Burkett, the roof of the building was under construction and the Inspections will then determine whether the materials or weight of tools used have been a factor. From what is known so far, and what a video taken by a security camera shows, the building collapsed from top to bottom, as if they were pieces of dominoes and in what engineers know as a “progressive collapse” . He recalled that in engineering the rule is used that each square foot can support up to a maximum of 40 pounds (18 kilos), however the square foot of the ceilings, made of reinforced concrete, can weigh about 100 pounds (45 kilos). If contractors placed heavy machinery or cut holes near columns, to give a few examples, the roof could have collapsed and, at the same time, broke the rule of 40 pounds per square foot of the 12th floor, which ends up producing the so-called “progressive collapse”. But Professor Colaco emphasizes that there may be other possible scenarios, such as that the sea salt of this building located on the beachfront has entered possible cracks in its balconies and corroded its structure. Likewise, it cannot be ruled out that the works that were carried out in a neighboring building, and that according to some local officials produced some cracks in the Champlain Towers South that were repaired, may have had to do with the collapse. He even recalled that parts of the city of Miami are sinking as a result of rising sea levels and, in the case of the Surfside building, it could have affected its foundations. Regarding victims and survivors, the specialist showed little hope: “If they are not picked up in the next few hours they will perish due to lack of oxygen,” he said. THE RECERTIFICATION OF THE BUILDING In 1981, precisely the year that Champlain Towers South was built, the collapse of a five-story building in the coastal town of Cocoa Beach, in central Florida, caused the death of 11 workers, It motivated the creation of the state law Threshold Inspection that is still in force today. This law added more inspections throughout the construction process of any building that is more than three stories high, or 90 feet (27 meters) high, or that exceeds 5,000 square feet (1,525 meters) and can house at least 500 people. Local authorities have announced that as a result of an inspection under this law, the roof of the collapsed building in Miami-Dade was under construction, although the mayor of Surfside has said that in principle this is not considered as a factor of the loss. For now, state and local authorities continue to focus on assisting victims and their families, and this same Thursday, State Governor Ron DeSantis announced that his government will work with property owners in Miami-Dade County to find temporary housing for people. displaced as a result of the collapse. “I want to thank our brave first responders who took swift action to save lives. The state of Florida is committed to providing the resources necessary to help the community recover,” said DeSantis, who took a tour of the scene today. In a statement, his office announced that the governor has also authorized the use of state resources to inspect the damage caused to the entire Surfside community and local businesses. (c) . Agency

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