Explosions on Sunday brought down the rest of the partially damaged Florida condominium, a salient step in the search and rescue operation to gain access to new areas, according to experts.
A chain of controlled blasts just before 10.30 pm that dissolved one floor after another into whirls of dust as crowds watched from afar.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the rescue crews had already been given the all-clear to begin work on the mound again.
“It was picture perfect. Exactly what we were told would happen,” she said.
Crews were to begin clearing some of the new debris so rescuers could start making their way into parts of the underground garage that is of particular interest. Once there, they were hoping to get a clearer picture of voids that may exist in the rubble and could possibly harbor survivors.
“At this precise moment I feel relief. I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts,” Levine Cava said.
No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the 24 June collapse.
Work was suspended for 15 hours to shift parts of the remaining building as the approaching tropical storm Elsa triggered urgency.
So far, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, with 121 still missing. Many others barely escaped. The Miami-Dade Police Department on Saturday night added Graciela Cattarossi, 48, and Gonzalo Torre, 81, to the list of those confirmed dead.
President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida because of the storm, making federal aid possible.
The method used for Sunday night’s demolition is called “energetic felling,” which uses small detonation devices and relies on the force of gravity.
State officials said they hired the BG Group, a general contractor based in Delray Beach, Florida, to lead the demolition.
Officials acknowledged that the tragedy is continuing to unfold during the July 4th holiday.
“This July 4 we’re reminded that patriotism isn’t just about loyalty to country,” said Levine Cava. “It’s about loyalty to one another – to our communities, to those in need whose names or stories we may not know ever, but to whom we are connected by compassion and by resilience.”