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Miami tower victims were 'killed by their leaky swimming pool': Engineer warned in 2018 about 'structural damage' to pool area as search for 159 missing is hampered by fire that continues to burn in the rubble

 The 12-story Miami condo had been flagged for 'major structural damage' to the pool deck area and underground parking garage in a damning report almost three years before it collapsed early Thursday, killing at least four and leaving 159 still missing.

A consultant engineer warned back in October 2018 that the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Miami Beach, was in need of numerous repairs around the base of the structure 'in a timely fashion.'

The structural field survey report specifically raised concerns about the pool deck area, in which the waterproofing was failing, and the underground parking garage which was riddled with 'abundant' cracking. 

Despite the apparent urgency of some of the recommendations, an attorney for the resident-led condo association told the New York Times this week that repairs were only about to begin - more than two and a half years after the inspection.

The alarming report was released by officials overnight Friday on the Surfside, Florida town website as questions continue to swirl over what caused the 1980s condo tower to suddenly collapse and whether the tragedy could have been avoided. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has vowed to 'get to the bottom of what happened' while local officials called for the evacuation of residents living in the block's sister building. 

Now, more than 48 hours on from Thursday's early morning disaster, hope is fading for the 159 people still unaccounted for, with no survivors or victims located during Friday's painstaking 'needle in a haystack search.' 

The search and rescue mission has been increasingly hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble, sending thick smoke into the air, officials said in a Saturday morning press conference.

Firefighters have been unable to locate the source of the fire and have taken to digging a trench in the rubble away from the flames that rescue teams can safely search for victims and survivors around. 

An alarming report released by officials overnight Friday reveals an engineer warned about structural issues on the condo tower three years before it collapsed

An alarming report released by officials overnight Friday reveals an engineer warned about structural issues on the condo tower three years before it collapsed 

The 12-story Miami condo had been flagged for 'major structural damage' to the pool deck area and underground parking garage in a damning report almost three years before it collapsed early Thursday, killing at least four

The 12-story Miami condo had been flagged for 'major structural damage' to the pool deck area and underground parking garage in a damning report almost three years before it collapsed early Thursday, killing at least four

Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo Saturday morning as hopes fade of finding people alive

Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo Saturday morning as hopes fade of finding people alive

Rescue teams have been hampered by raging fires beneath the surface of the rubble which they cannot find the source of

Rescue teams have been hampered by raging fires beneath the surface of the rubble which they cannot find the source of 

Crews on Saturday continue to search for survivors marking the third day rescue teams have worked round the clock

Crews on Saturday continue to search for survivors marking the third day rescue teams have worked round the clock

The release of the alarming report comes as:

  • Officials confirmed Saturday that no more victims or survivors had been found in the last 24 hours
  • The search and rescue mission has been hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble
  • Firefighters cannot locate the source of the fire and were forced to temporarily stop the search to build a trench in the rubble, from which they could safely search from 
  • Miami-Dade Mayor Cava announced she was introducing an audit of all buildings aged 40 or over in the county to be completed within the next 30 days  
  • Surfside Mayor called for the evacuation of residents living in the block's sister building one block away  
  • 159 people are still unaccounted for including the first cousin of the former president of Chile and the president of Paraguay's sister-in-law 
  • Four are confirmed dead with the first victim identified as Stacie Fang, the mom of a boy, 15, rescued from the rubble Thursday  
  • Sources told DailyMail.com many people in the building were tourists from Latin America renting apartments while they traveled to the US to get COVID-19 vaccines  
  • It was revealed that scientists had warned last year that the condo development was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s 
  • The building was also due to have its safety recertified for the first time in 40 years this year and had recently undergone construction work on its roof 

Consultant Frank Morabito carried out the inspection to assess the overall condition of the building and recommend any structural issues in need of repair, as the building neared its 40-year standing and in turn its need for recertification under local regulation. 

In the report, he warned that the 'main issue' was the pool deck and entrance drive area, where condo residents would enjoy the Miami sunshine by the pool.

Morabito wrote that the waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive was failing' and 'beyond its useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced.'

The report warned that the failed waterproofing was 'causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas.'

'Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,' it read. 

Morabito wrote that there had been a 'major error' in the original design of that area because the waterproofing was laid on a concrete slab that was flat, rather than sloped to allow water to run off.

The engineering firm released a statement Saturday confirming that it completed the report in 2018 that 'detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete' of the building and gave a cost estimate to make the fixes.

The condo board hired the company also in 2020, the company said in its statement, to complete a plan for its 40-year certification.

'We are deeply troubled by this building collapse and are working closely with the investigating authorities to understand why the structure failed,' the statement said. 'As we do so, we also continue to pray for all those impacted by this tragic event.' 

The report recommended a list of repairs to the area including repairs to the concrete structure, 'installing a new waterproofing membrane, protection board and drain panels on the new sloped surface' among other changes. 


A consultant engineer warned back in October 2018 that the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Miami Beach, was in need of numerous repairs around the base of the structure 'in a timely fashion'. The pool deck area and garage seen above was the 'main issue' named in the report

A consultant engineer warned back in October 2018 that the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Miami Beach, was in need of numerous repairs around the base of the structure 'in a timely fashion'. The pool deck area and garage seen above was the 'main issue' named in the report

The parking garage, some of which lay beneath the pool area, had 'abundant cracking and spalling', the report found (see pictures contained in the report above)

The parking garage, some of which lay beneath the pool area, had 'abundant cracking and spalling', the report found (see pictures contained in the report above)

The report also found previous repairs to the garage were 'failing' (pictures from the report above). The underground parking garage was partly beneath the pool area, where the report found waterproofing was failing

The report also found previous repairs to the garage were 'failing' (pictures from the report above). The underground parking garage was partly beneath the pool area, where the report found waterproofing was failing

These changes would provide 'extra protection for the existing reinforced concrete structure and allows future membrane repair/replacement to be completed more economically.' 

In the underground parking garage, which sits partly beneath the pool deck, the report warned of 'signs of distress and fatigue' and 'abundant cracking and spalling. 

'Abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams, and walls,' Morabito wrote.   

'Several sizeable spalls were noted in both the topside of the entrance drive ramp and underside of the pool/ entrance drive/ planter slabs, which included instances with exposed, deteriorating rebar. 

Spalling refers to areas of concrete cracking or crumbling. 

The report also found that 'many of the previous garage concrete repairs' were 'failing' and 'ineffective.'

Under the area beneath the pool deck in particular, the report noted that 'new cracks were radiating from the originally repaired cracks.' 

Morabito recommended that the entrance and pool deck area concrete slabs showing distress 'be removed and replaced in their entirety.' 

While the engineer wrote that 'some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.  

The report also lists a series of other issues including cracks in the concrete on balconies, water seeping through windows and balcony doors into the condos and 'minor cracking' in the roof.

The report does not warn that the building was at risk of collapse but states that the repairs would help in 'maintaining the structural integrity' of the building.

Photos of the damaged areas were included in the report. This week, the same areas of the building were seen looking unrecognizable, as rescue crews combed through the rubble looking for survivors.

Firefighters were seen wading through deep water in the parking garage during the search - in the area where several repairs were recommended almost three years earlier. 

Condo association attorney Kenneth Direktor told the Times the repairs 'were just about to get started' when the building collapsed. 

A permit for repairs to the roof was issued by the town just hours before the tragedy at around 1:30am Thursday.

Surfside issued the permit to 'install roof safety anchors and provide stucco repairs' and replace the existing roof on Wednesday.  

Two other permits were also issued for electrical repair and roof repair on the building last month. It is not clear whether any of the repairs were yet underway.  

Several other issues including cracking was detailed in the report. Despite the apparent urgency of some of the recommendations, repairs were only about to begin - more than two and a half years after the inspection

Several other issues including cracking was detailed in the report. Despite the apparent urgency of some of the recommendations, repairs were only about to begin - more than two and a half years after the inspection

When asked about the report in Saturday's press conference, Mayor Cava said officials were 'interested in all the evidence that comes to light' and said she had not been aware of the report.  

She said the priority was on making sure 'other buildings are safe' in the area and announced she was ordering a county audit of all buildings 40 years old or older to be completed within the next 30 days. 

The audit will ensure that every building has completed its recertification process and remediated any issues, she said.

Cava said she did not have numbers on how many buildings in the county would fall under the audit but said she knew of 'one other building by this developer up the street' - the sister building one block away.

She urged cities in the area to join her in carrying out such an audit.   

Cava told CNN 'are going to get to the bottom of what happened at this particular building'.

'Clearly, our buildings need to be structurally sound. We need to have regular reviews, and to the extent that we need to change laws, we will change laws, and we will make sure these things do not happen in the future,' she said.   

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the search and rescue mission has been increasingly hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the search and rescue mission has been increasingly hampered by raging fires burning beneath the surface of the rubble

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined Saturday's press conference where officials confirmed no further victims or survivors had been found in the rubble

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis joined Saturday's press conference where officials confirmed no further victims or survivors had been found in the rubble 

The side of the partially collapsed building is seen exposed Saturday as the search enters its third day in Surfside

The side of the partially collapsed building is seen exposed Saturday as the search enters its third day in Surfside 

Workers continue to comb the rubble as officials insist it remains a rescue mission despite 24 hours passing since the last person was found

Workers continue to comb the rubble as officials insist it remains a rescue mission despite 24 hours passing since the last person was found

Officials on Saturday said rescue teams had faced extremely challenging circumstances as they battled fires beneath rubble

Officials on Saturday said rescue teams had faced extremely challenging circumstances as they battled fires beneath rubble

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said it's still 'unclear what steps the building was taking to address those cracks' warned about in the report.

He told the network he was yet to read the report but was going to get a copy that morning so he could 'give out accurate information regarding that.'

'I understand from our building official, that it was in the form of the 2018 email that came from an engineer regarding those cracks,' he said, adding it's 'unclear right now exactly what was going on in that building.'

The condo tower was due to have its safety recertified for the first time in 40 years this year and had recently undergone construction work on its roof.

It also emerged this week that a scientist had warned in a 2020 report that the development was sinking due to its position on reclaimed marshlands.

A team of federal experts was drafted in Friday to help state and local officials determine the cause of the collapse and Surfside Town Manager Andy Hyatt said the town had 'engaged a structural engineer to inspect other buildings in Surfside.'  

But while officials are urging the public not to jump to conclusions, Surfside Mayor Burkett is urging residents of the sister building Champlain Towers North to evacuate out of 'an abundance of caution' as he admitted he 'can't tell them it is safe.'   

Firefighters were seen wading through water in the parking garage remains on Thursday as they hunted for survivors

Firefighters were seen wading through water in the parking garage remains on Thursday as they hunted for survivors

The alarming report was released by officials overnight Friday on the Surfside, Florida town website as questions continue to swirl over what caused the 1980s condo tower to suddenly collapse and whether the tragedy could have been avoided

The alarming report was released by officials overnight Friday on the Surfside, Florida town website as questions continue to swirl over what caused the 1980s condo tower to suddenly collapse and whether the tragedy could have been avoided

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava vowed to 'get to the bottom of what happened' while local officials called for the evacuation of residents living in the block's sister building

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava vowed to 'get to the bottom of what happened' while local officials called for the evacuation of residents living in the block's sister building

Rescue teams comb through the rubble Friday for survivors and victims of the tragedy with 159 still missing more than 48 hours on

Rescue teams comb through the rubble Friday for survivors and victims of the tragedy with 159 still missing more than 48 hours on

Now, more than 48 hours on from Thursday's early morning disaster, hope is fading for the 159 people still unaccounted for, with no survivors or victims located during Friday's painstaking 'needle in a haystack search'

Now, more than 48 hours on from Thursday's early morning disaster, hope is fading for the 159 people still unaccounted for, with no survivors or victims located during Friday's painstaking 'needle in a haystack search'

The North tower is located around a block away from the South tower. It also has 12 stories, was built in 1981 by the same developers.  

'I don't think people need to live with the possibility, or the thought that their' building may collapse, he told CNN. 

'It had the same developer, it probably had the same materials, they probably had the same plans, and people are asking me is the building safe, and I can't tell them it is safe.' 

Burkett on Friday told WSVN he would be recommending people leave the building.  

While questions are mounting over the cause of the collapse, the search entered its third day Saturday, with hopes of finding more people alive fading by the hour.   

No more survivors or victims have been found in more than 24 hours - since overnight Thursday - and rescue teams are now battling with a deep fire beneath the rubble. 

Mayor Cava gave the grave update Saturday morning: 'The numbers are the same as they were yesterday.' 

'We're facing incredible difficulties with this fire,' she said.

'The fire has been going on. It's a very deep fire and it is incredibly difficult to locate the source of the fire.'

Cava said the 'brave' fire and rescue teams have been 'working round the clock' in the hunt for survivors and victims but the fire has been 'hampering' efforts.   

Rescue crews are using infrared technology, foam, water and other tactics to try to reduce the fire and the smoke but, the mayor said, 'it's very difficult to isolate the source of the fire and therefore stop it.'  

Teams had to stop the search at one point to build a trench in the rubble from which they can safely search for survivors and victims from.    

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Saturday morning that raging fires beneath the surface of the rubble have hampered the search for survivors and victims, leaving rescue teams grappling with 'very challenging circumstances.' 

'The fire department has been fighting these fires all night,' he said.

The fires are 'smoldering' and the smoke in the air is now 'very thick' which has 'obviously created quite an obstacle' to carrying out the search, he said. 

Despite the lack of news around the 159 people trapped, officials insisted it is still a rescue mission at this time. 

Rescue teams work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo tower building Friday but find no survivors

Rescue teams work in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo tower building Friday but find no survivors

The view of the tower as seen from the beach. The tower partially collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning

The view of the tower as seen from the beach. The tower partially collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning 

Fire and rescue crews have worked round the clock searching for survivors as hopes fade for the missing 159 people

Fire and rescue crews have worked round the clock searching for survivors as hopes fade for the missing 159 people 

While questions are mounting over the cause of the collapse, the search entered its third day Saturday, with hopes of finding more people alive fading by the hour

While questions are mounting over the cause of the collapse, the search entered its third day Saturday, with hopes of finding more people alive fading by the hour

A rescue worker trying to find survivors in the rubble said Friday that the tapping sounds heard Thursday in the wreckage had 'dissipated'.

Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue task force, told CNN that rescue crews heard 'some tapping' yesterday - or noise indicating that some of the victims may still be alive.

Rescue crews 'did hear some tapping - there was some noise,' he said.    

But he said that the tapping had 'dissipated' by Friday. Still, he said, crews hadn't given up hope.

'We haven't really heard anything in a while now, but that's not to say that there's still not people trapped that are alive,' he told CNN's Sanjay Gupta. 'As time's running out they might be getting a little more sick or ill – not as vocal as before – but, like I said, we're going to keep searching.'

Rescuers wouldn't stop until 'every stone is removed,' he said. 

'I think these guys, you know, that's their mindset also: They're just going to keep going, keep going, keep going until, like I said, every stone is turned over and all the rubble is removed,' Lieberman said.

He added: 'We're seeing stuffed animals, teddy bears, boxed of diapers, a child's bunk bed, and we're finding a lot of pictures, family pictures.'

'It's a little bit more emotional than going somewhere, where you know there's no one, let's say for a hurricane where they had enough warning and they had evacuation time and they got out.'

Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon with a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue task force, told CNN that rescue crews heard 'some tapping' yesterday that has since dissipated

Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon with a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue task force, told CNN that rescue crews heard 'some tapping' yesterday that has since dissipated

Firefighters spayed the rubble of the disaster on Friday where small fires and smoldering rubble still could be seen

Firefighters spayed the rubble of the disaster on Friday where small fires and smoldering rubble still could be seen

Searchers climbed through the rubble in hopes of finding air pockets that would have allowed people to survive

Searchers climbed through the rubble in hopes of finding air pockets that would have allowed people to survive

The half of the building closest to the ocean collapsed into rubble around 130 am Thursday; rescuers have been searching frantically for survivors since

The half of the building closest to the ocean collapsed into rubble around 130 am Thursday; rescuers have been searching frantically for survivors since

Zulema Perez prays in front of the memorial for victims of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors

Zulema Perez prays in front of the memorial for victims of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors

A man hangs a photo on a fence of someone missing near the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed in Surfside

A man hangs a photo on a fence of someone missing near the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed in Surfside

People hang up more signs of missing residents and light candles from the partial collapse in Surfside where the rescue personnel continue their search for victims nearly 48 hours after the collapse

People hang up more signs of missing residents and light candles from the partial collapse in Surfside where the rescue personnel continue their search for victims nearly 48 hours after the collapse

Isabella Cisternino, Camila Giron-Otano and Isabela Giron-Otano, from left to right, light candles in the sand near where search and rescue operations continue at the site of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building

Isabella Cisternino, Camila Giron-Otano and Isabela Giron-Otano, from left to right, light candles in the sand near where search and rescue operations continue at the site of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building


Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said: 'Any time that we hear a sound, we concentrate in that area,' 

'It could be just steel twisting, it could be debris raining down, but not specifically sounds of tapping or sounds of a human voice,' Jadallah said.  

The first victim of the Miami condo tower disaster was identified Friday as the mother of a 15-year-old boy who survived the wreckage. 

Stacie Fang, 54, died Thursday when the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami Beach, suddenly collapsed around 1:30am that morning. 

She was the mother of a 15-year-old boy who was dramatically rescued from the rubble with the help of a passing dog walker.    

Crews have started to use heavy equipment including cranes to look for survivors

Crews have started to use heavy equipment including cranes to look for survivors

Buffeted by gusty winds and pelted by intermittent rain, two heavy cranes removed debris from the pile using large claws Friday, creating a din of crashing glass and metal as they picked up material and dumped it to the side.

Once the machines paused, firefighters wearing protective masks and carrying red buckets climbed atop the pile to remove smaller pieces by hand in hope of finding spots where people might be trapped. 

Some of the building remained smoldering - and firefighters used crane trucks to spray water on the crumbled structure where intermittent fires had popped up.

In a parking garage, rescuers in knee-deep water used power tools to cut into the building from below.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said crews were doing everything possible to save as many people as they could.

'We do not have a resource problem, we have a luck problem,' he said.

The search has not yet transitioned to recovery, though some family members waiting at a reunification center have given DNA samples in case they are needed to help identify victims, CNN reported.

Miami Dade Mayor Danielle Levine Cava told The New York Times that rescuers were using cameras, dogs and sonar equipment to look for survivors. 

'They are in the tunnels, they're in the water, they're on top of the rubble pile,' she said. The pile's instability made the work that much more delicate and dangerous.

She noted that the instability of the rubble pile made rescue efforts dangerous as crews 'can't dislodge pieces of debris that could injure them in the process. 

'They can't dislodge debris that could possibly make it more difficult to continue the search,' she had said earlier on Friday.

Experts have said that rescue efforts remain hopeful because people have been known to survive for weeks underneath rubble piles.

Police officers stand guard surrounded by smoke from a partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

Police officers stand guard surrounded by smoke from a partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

A man rides a bicycle surrounded by smoke from a partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

A man rides a bicycle surrounded by smoke from a partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

A woman stands near a barricade tape near a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors

A woman stands near a barricade tape near a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors

Dr. Mike Cirigliano, a doctor of internal medicine in Philadelphia, told WTXF-TV that people can survive in so-called 'lean-tos' where a pocket of space within the rubble allows them an oxygen supply.

He said that in some cases survivors can even last on a supply of water as rainwater can seep into lean-tos, according to the outlet. 

A Haitian man survived two weeks underneath a crumbled building after the devastating 2010 earthquake, according to CNN.

At a news conference on Friday night, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said there are currently four task force teams working on search and rescue as teams from Mexico and Israel arrived on Friday morning to help with the efforts. 

A rescue worker leads a rescue dog after looking for possible survivors among the debris of a partially collapsed building in Surfside

A rescue worker leads a rescue dog after looking for possible survivors among the debris of a partially collapsed building in Surfside

A dog of the search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside

A dog of the search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building

Rescue crew respond at the site after a partial building collapse in Surfside near Miami Beach, Florida

Rescue crew respond at the site after a partial building collapse in Surfside near Miami Beach, Florida

Rescue workers look for possible survivors among the debris of a partially collapsed building in Surfside

Rescue workers look for possible survivors among the debris of a partially collapsed building in Surfside

He did not give an exact number for how many personnel from Mexico and Israel had been sent.

Cominsky said crews will be using heavy equipment such as cranes to help move debris on top of the sonar equipment, dogs and video cameras that they have already been using.

He said at the news conference that the main focus has been on sifting through debris underneath the parking garage.

'Any glimpse of hopes that we have, any signals that we see that's where want our primary focus. This is where we've been focused with the operation and looking for those voids,' he said.

Rescue crews have also formed 'bucket brigades' to clear debris while using sonar devices to identify any signs of life, CBS News reported.

Miami Dade Fire Rescue posted a warning to residents on Friday night about 'smoky conditions' after the building collapse

Miami Dade Fire Rescue posted a warning to residents on Friday night about 'smoky conditions' after the building collapse

Miami Dade Fire Rescue warned residents to stay indoors with windows closed as Miami Beach experiences 'smoky conditions' after the collapse

Miami Dade Fire Rescue warned residents to stay indoors with windows closed as Miami Beach experiences 'smoky conditions' after the collapse


Each rescue team has a doctor like Lieberman to accompany them to aid any potential survivors and rescuers if they happen to be injured during their rescue efforts. 

'They remove a layer at a time. So basically, they are sort of delayering the pile. So they take off one layer at a time. We go in, we search, see if we can find anything. If not, they take off another layer,' Lieberman told the outlet.


However, Dave Downey - a retired Miami-Dade fire chief - told CBS News that rescuers are 'essentially looking for needles in a haystack.' 

'While this building came down relatively straight, they're not — victims and survivors are not going to be located in the exact area where the building used to stand,' he said. 

Mayor Cava said at a news conference on Friday night that rescue efforts will continue through the night as 159 people still remain unaccounted for after the collapse.

'We're going to have more resources to pay for this expensive search and rescue and to give us access to more teams for the rescue later, for the clearance of the rubble and for the assistance for the families, as they put their lives back together,' Cava said.

She added: 'We're here, we'll continue, and please stand by us. Stand by us, as we stand by the families.'

Cava told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that she continues to have hope survivors will be rescued 'because our first responders tell me they have hope.'

'They are the ones on the ground. They are in the tunnels, they're in the water, they're on top of the rubble pile. They're helping to sift through using the cameras, the dogs the sonar and they say they have hope,' she said.

Rescuers hit a complication in efforts on Friday as they worked to extinguish a 'deeply rooted fire' under the structure, fire officials said.

Miami Dade Fire Rescue posted a warning to residents on Friday night about 'smoky conditions' after the building collapse.

'If you live near the area of the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse, you may be experiencing smoky conditions, which can affect those with respiratory conditions. Please stay indoors, keep your windows and doors closed, and run your a/c by recirculating the air inside your home,' the agency tweeted.

Patricia Mazzei, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted that 'the smoke tonight was rough' while Fox News reporter Lauren Blanchard described the air quality as 'thick' and said that it 'burns.'

'The wind continues to blow it in waves - sometimes it thins out where we are … but then it kicks back up,' Blanchard tweeted.

According to research from USA Today, the most common and successful methods used to try to locate survivors include acoustic detection and dogs that can sniff out living survivors.

The outlet noted that aerial drones utilizing cameras and other sensors help rescue teams monitor the collapse to find pockets where it's safe to enter the debris. 

Rescuers will often also use data from smartphones and phone service providers which can show if a missing person was in the area at the time of the disaster.

Even more usefully, search teams can use radar and microwave technology to more accurately pinpoint where survivors may be, according to University of Buffalo professor Joana Gaia.

She described the technology to USA Today as being similar to 'the technology in cars that beeps when you're close to hitting something.'

'Responders are operating on a speed rather than accuracy standpoint,' Gaia said.

'They think: 'If I think a body is there, I don't care how accurate the signal is. I'm just going to try to go save the person.''

David Proulx, a vice president at defense contractor Teledyne FLIR which specializes in thermal sensing, told USA Today that robotics can be 'incredibly useful' in detecting survivors underneath the ground.

'Once you get into that subterranean realm, ground robotics become incredibly useful. It can safely go where humans can't,' Proulx told USA Today.

A crane removes wreckage of a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach, Florida on Friday

A crane removes wreckage of a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach, Florida on Friday

Crews have started to use heavy equipment such as cranes to 'strategically' lift debris in the search for survivors of the collapse

Crews have started to use heavy equipment such as cranes to 'strategically' lift debris in the search for survivors of the collapse

The outlet reported that at least one company is shipping a ground robot from California to help with the search.

In a press release on Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Florida to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

The action from President Joe Biden authorized FEMA 'to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population.' 

'Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,' the news release reads. 

The agency said that it would provide assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures under the Individuals and Households Program under the Stafford Act/

Thomas J. McCool has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response operations for the affected area.

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