More than 150 feared dead in Miami apartment block collapse

Originally published at: More than 150 feared dead in Miami apartment block collapse | Boing Boing


In the '90s an unrelated study showed the building subsiding “rapidly” (2 mm/year or thereabouts). If the subsidence kept up since it was built, that 80 mm. There’s no reason why that kind of subsidence should be uniform, and in fact reports (and at least one lawsuit) strongly suggest it wasn’t. That might not sound like much but in a 12-story building that could be more than enough to render the whole thing unstable, and even moreso if the weight shifted onto the already-sinking part of the foundation.


Oh shit, cue (or Q) the conspiracy theorists…


my bet is on foundation - changing subsurface conditions like water table at the beach? or some mis-assumption in the design. Lacking any other physical work happening above grade or history of blatant deterioration it would seem undermining in some way is the likely culprit. Otherwise sudden catastrophic failure of reinforced concrete structures typically do not happen - concrete failure almost always involves obvious cracks opening, and when failure begins it is taken up by stretching of the reinforcing steel - which gains strength as it is worked by stretching which takes the structure to an equilibrium - failing but holding. It will rarely fall down all at once without some other influence.


I was also wondering about sub par materials. Years ago I was doing inspections in Puerto Rico and a lot of the homes’ ceilings had collapsed. Turns out the builder had used beach sand in the concrete mix, which isn’t “sharp” enough to serve it’s purpose in the mix of giving the sticky stuff something to stick to. Maybe a combo.
Given what little I know about FL real estate developers, I wouldn’t be shocked.
This is a tragedy.


9/11 aside, this must be the biggest building collapse in the US since the Kansas City Hyatt in 1981. I can’t think of anything else in my lifetime.


Can’t even begin to imagine what the people in surrounding buildings must be thinking…aside from looking at property in Kansas or something. I mean how on earth could you trust your building again after seeing that one just dissolve in the middle of the night??


Wow. This still just blows my mind.

I am sure a whole slew of building standards and inspections are going to be written up for this.


link? source?


Let the grifting begin

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As mentioned above, the ground underneath it had been sinking for decades, as it was build on former swampland. They had known for years it was unstable. Also, it was known that building there was a very dumb idea:

Another issue at hand for the Surfside community is one shared with all of Miami Beach: The towns are built on a barrier island. Climate scientists and geologists have long warned that these islands cannot be developed responsibly. They are made of a loose mixture of sand and mud and provide a natural protection for the shoreline.

“These are very dynamic features. We didn’t understand that these islands actually migrate until the 1970s,” said Orrin Pilkey, a professor emeritus of geology at Duke University who has long studied sea-level rise and the over-development of the coast. “As sea level rises, they move back.”

So it’s less a question of “why did this building collapse” and more of “why haven’t there been other collapses.” But I’m guessing that will be answered when this turns out to be the first of many collapses.

Everything I’m reading suggests they shouldn’t have trusted their buildings to begin with and they’re all in similar situations.

(And it doesn’t seem like the subsidence stopped after the '90s, but the study only covered those years.)



Over on the other thread.


FEMA aid is absolutely appropriate for this tragedy. A lot of people are homeless and hurt and need help immediately.

I don’t doubt that someone is likely to try to take advantage of the situation but “grifters” are hardly the biggest problem to worry about at the moment.


I’d join your side of that bet - that is, i agree with everything you wrote. Unequal foundation settling causing growing shear stresses, then place some “heavy construction equipment on the roof” and then the ghastly pancaking is triggered …poor folks! -sigh-


From the video, the failure looks more like a slump rather than a cascading pancake collapse. I guess we’ll see.


the article seems to describe subsidence over the region, not specifically with this building. Not to discount this as a cause, but I thought it was being described as a study of this specific property.


It wasn’t an even subsidence, though:

The data, collected from 1993 to 1999, showed that most of the Miami area was not sinking appreciably, save for a few hot spots. Wdowinski said most of those occurred in the western part of Miami, where the elevation is lower. The level of sinking at the Champlain condo was unusual, he said.

That particular building was apparently singled out for mention in the study. But yeah, there are seemingly some serious problems that could apply to any building along that shore, too.


Now reporting 4 dead, 159 missing.

I understand the need for accuracy in reporting of victims bu part of me wonders whether this is related to Florida’s trend of underreporting casualties.

This. There’s gonna be a whole lot of building inspection going on. This is just one reason why the whole “if sea level rises, sell your house” thing is particularly stupid. I really hope, if there are more buildings like this one, they find out before they start falling over.


Ah, but you forget, this is Florida. More inspections? No, of course not, this was one incident, it’s not state wide (they will say). Once it’s receded in the news cycle, they’ll go right back to ignoring the problems with their building codes, inspections, site decisions, etc, etc. Florida is too busy crazy building as much crap as possible with zero regard for environmental or human impact.