Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI), Phoenix, Maryland, imploded what was still standing of the Champlain Towers South condos in Surfside, Florida, on July 4 after much of the 12-story complex unexpectedly collapsed last month. The building was brought down in its entirety after Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava approved an emergency ordinance for demolition on July 2.
The implosion went “exactly as planned,” Cava said, according to the AP, following a series of small implosions administered by CDI. “It was picture perfect. Exactly what we were told would happen.”
The implosion was expedited, in part, to make it easier for search and rescue teams to assess the site.
“I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts,” Cava continued.
As of reporting on July 6, at least 32 people are dead and 113 people are still unaccounted for after about 55 of the oceanfront complex's 136 units were destroyed following the June 24 collapse, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah told ABC News.
About 188 people living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster have been accounted for and are safe.
The cause of the initial collapse is still being investigated.
Scott Homrich, the president of the National Demolition Association, told the Washington Post that while there was no sign that the June 24 Surfside collapse was caused deliberately, the sequence of events resembled that seen in many controlled demolitions.
“You see basically the bottom of the full building go away, and you just see the whole building drop all at one time. And that is very reminiscent of what an implosion would do,” Homrich told the Post of the steel-reinforced structure.
Homrich also noted to the Post that the second collapse of the building “wasn’t catastrophic failure.”
“What that was [was] the debris underneath—probably a combination of half pulling it over and then piling up against the columns—and it finally failed. And then it comes down.”
While the cause of the collapse is still unknown, some experts speculate it was due to a failure in the complex’s pool deck area. This is because, in 2018, an engineer's report found that the slab under the deck was not sloped to drain properly and had suffered damage as a result.
According to two residents of the complex, the underground garage had also suffered from falling concrete. The cracked and fallen concrete was a sign that the steel structure had been rusting, according to a memo sent by Jean Wodnicki, the condominium board’s president.
On July 1, search efforts briefly paused as concern grew over the remaining structure and its integrity. These concerns were exacerbated by the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa and worries that the storm's high winds could threaten the structure and those searching the debris and otherwise working on-site.
Watch a video of the implosion below, courtesy of the Miami Herald: