Days after it emerged that a 2018 report warned of a “Major error” in design and “significant structural damage” in the building Champlain Towers South that collapsed in Miami, photos taken underground appeared 36 hours before the tragedy that left 11 dead and 152 missing. The images were taken by a pool maintenance company and show exposed rebar and corroded and wet floor in the engine room of the pool.
“There was stagnant water in the entire parking lot”said the contractor, who asked not to be identified, to the newspaper The Miami Herald. The man had visited the site less than two days before the sudden collapse that occurred early Thursday morning to budget for cosmetic repairs to the pool, a small part of the multi-million dollar restoration project they just started in the 40 year old complex.
In dialogue with him Miami Herald, said that the presence of water “was not normal” and that he thought it was “waterproofing problems.”
The deepest pool of standing water, according to the contractor, was located around garage # 78, an area that according to construction plans is located directly under the pool deck where in a 2018 inspection report, engineer Frank Morabito had pointed out a “major error” in the original design that allowed water to enter and caused serious damage to the structural concrete slabs below.
In the engine room of the pool, located on the south side of the underground garage – an area that did not collapse – the contractor saw exposed corroded rods on the concrete slab. He took photos and sent them to a supervisor to warn him that the job could be a bit more complicated than expected and that perhaps concrete restoration experts should intervene to repair the slabs.
“I wonder if this was happening in other parts of the building and caused this collapse,” he said.
Rosalia Cordaro, a neighbor who was not in the building at the time of the collapse, also told the Miami Herald I was concerned about the presence of water in the parking lot. “I was scared. There was always water in my place, water on the floor, water coming off the wall and a big, big, big crack. And nobody said anything, “he said.
The video of the collapse
So was the collapse of the building. (Video: TN)
“If the condition of the beam in the pool photo is something that was also happening underneath the 12-story building,” then it could “absolutely” have contributed to the collapse, said engineer Mohammad Ehsani, an expert in concrete restoration.
“In these buildings that are asymmetrical like this one, there is a possibility that if a part of the building collapses, the building rotates and twists,” Ehsani said. “In this case, it is possible that a failure anywhere in this building could cause distortion in the building frame and could cause a collapse in any of the areas, not just adjacent [a la falla]”.
Six engineering experts also told the Herald that based on engineering videos and reports, the collapse may have originated in a structural column or concrete slab below the pool deck.
“The building was in the conditions that one would expect of a building that is 40 years old, which is located in the Atlantic Ocean,” he told a few days ago. CNN Kenneth Direktor, one of the condo’s attorneys, warning against early speculation.
“Nothing like this was predictable,” Direktor said. “At least it wasn’t seen by the engineers who were looking at the building from a structural perspective,” he said.
A lawyer for the condominium association, Donna D. Berger, claimed that they had obtained a line of credit to pay for necessary repairs to the building, but that “no work could be done during the pandemic, which caused a significant delay ”.