Crews Demolish Remaining Section Of Florida Condo As Storm Nears : Live Updates: Miami-Area Condo Collapse Officials in Miami-Dade County leveled the remaining section of the Champlain Towers South condo ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa. They said the unstable building was a danger to search efforts.

Crews Demolish Remaining Section Of Florida Condo As Storm Nears

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Last night, just after 10:30 p.m., demolition experts used explosives to bring down the rest of the Champlain Towers South that remained after the deadly condo collapse in Surfside, Fla.

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

FADEL: The number of confirmed dead from the disaster remains at 24; 121 people are still unaccounted for. NPR's Brian Mann joins us now from Miami Beach. Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So, Brian, can you tell us about the demolition last night?

MANN: Yeah. So you could hear there - there was that quick burst of rapid, powerful detonations, and in just a few seconds, those explosives undercut the structure. It sort of rippled, then folded. All that concrete came down in a rush, and there was a huge cloud of dust and debris. Stephanie Rioja is a parishioner at St. Joseph's Church, which is nearby. Her congregation lost people in the condo collapse. And she came last night to watch and pray and hold a candle.

STEPHANIE RIOJA: They're in peace now. They are in peace. It's over now. Thank you, Lord. We lost people from our church and from my kids' school, St. Patrick's.

MANN: So this moment brought some closure for some people. Officials say it's also going to make the disaster site safer so search and rescue teams can be back at work. They had halted recovery efforts because that tower was so unstable.

FADEL: What will happen to the families who lived in that tower?

MANN: Yeah, this part is complicated. You know, last night a lot of people lost their homes. FEMA and other agencies are helping to relocate survivors from the structure that collapsed and also people forced to evacuate this remaining tower that was demolished. But, you know, these families lost possessions and furniture. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents this area, she spoke about this at a press conference last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And we need to think about the loss, the further loss that the demolition of this building means for all of these families. And so I hope you keep them in your hearts. The initial collapse was certainly devastating; the demolition is going to add to that sadness and sorrow.

MANN: One bit of comfort is all the generosity. So many donations have poured in to help people restart their lives. But, you know, this is still a tough moment - a lot of grieving.

FADEL: I understand there was also a lot of concern among residents in the community about people's pets, pets that were left behind in those apartments. What happened to the animals?

MANN: You know, sadly, we haven't heard of animals being rescued. But Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava spoke about this last night. She said rescue teams did work hard to make sure there were no pets still in there. And officials said they just had to move forward with last night's demolition because of Tropical Storm Elsa, which is expected to move into the area or at least could bring high winds and rain to this part of south Florida later today.

FADEL: So what happens next?

MANN: Well, a lot of that will depend on the storm and what weather comes here. The crews will keep working in rotating shifts as long as it's safe, looking for victims and recovering bodies. It's slow and painstaking and risky. Forensic teams are also working to identify those who have been found. Meanwhile, of course, there are investigations underway to find out how this devastating condo collapse could have happened.

FADEL: NPR's Brian Mann in Miami Beach. Thank you, Brian.

MANN: Thank you.

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