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The Collapse of a Giant: Surface tower in Miami

By Ya Han Hsu

A twelve story building in Miami, Champlain Towers South collapsed in the middle of the night on June 6, costing ninety eight lives including one victim yet to be confirmed.

There have been several speculations of the reason for this tragedy. There is video footage by a surveillance camera that shows the forty-year-old building collapsed in different stages. First, as in the picture from the BBC, the building collapsed first in the center. Three seconds later the north face crumbled. Then, the east-facing end followed five second later.

In 2018, the residents had received warnings of the building, but it wasn’t predicted that there was a possibility of collapsing yet. There had been water damage around the pool area. Earlier this year, the president of the condominium association had warned that the building’s problem had gotten ‘significantly worse’. The water damage means that water goes into the concrete towards columns, causing iron to rust. That situation may lead to column swelling, and then the concrete will rupturing.

Another speculation is about land movement. Research showed that the building was sinking about two millimeters in the 1990s. These kinds of movements can cause cracking and lead to structural problems. Though the research was not particularly focused on the Champlain Towers South, it stood out as one of the places that show the most subsidence. This could be one of the reasons that caused the collapse.

As for the search for victims, it has stopped recently after a whole month’s work. It wasn’t easy. The searchers need to be aware of tropical storms and the risks of debris. There are ninety seven people confirmed. Officials said that no more bodies were found. However this conclusion is disappointing news for Estelle Hedaya’s family. She was believed to be the ninety-eighth victim of the collapse. "As we enter month two alone, without any other families, we feel helpless," Her brother told the Associated Press news agency.

Ya Han Hsu





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