The unstable remnant of the Miami apartment block that partially collapsed in the small hours of 24 June was brought down last night before the arrival of a tropical storm, which authorities feared would make the site even more dangerous for teams searching for an estimated 121 people still missing and 24 confirmed dead.
Search and rescue efforts were paused Saturday while specialists prepared the surroundings and drilled holes for explosives in the compromised structure in Surfside, which were detonated Sunday night at around 10pm local time, with the exercise declared successful and the area free of dust by around 11pm.
Authorities had envisioned a demolition in the coming weeks but the demolition was brought forward with Tropical Storm Elsa, bringing 65mph winds, rain and storm surges, due to hit the Florida coast sometime today.
"Our top priority is that the building comes down as soon as possible, no matter what time that occurs, and as safely as possible," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters Sunday morning.
"Bringing down this building in a controlled manner is critical to expanding the scope of our search and rescue effort and allowing us to explore the area closest to the building, which has currently not been accessible to our first responders given the great risk from this building, which is insecure," she added.
She said search teams would continue immediately after the demolition.
"We pray for limited impacts of the storm in Surfside so that we can continue unimpeded," she said.
Image: The unstable remnant of the partially collapsed building, seen here, was brought down by controlled explosions on the night of 4 July (Miami-Dade Police Department)