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The deepest puddle of standing water underneath the pool of the collapsed Miami condominium was in the same area as a “major error” identified in 2018 in the original design of the building, the Miami Herald reported Monday.
Eleven people are confirmed dead after Champlain Towers South partially collapsed last week, with more than 150 residents still missing.
It’s still not immediately clear what caused the collapse, but experts say a structural failure at the bottom of the building could be to blame.
A pool contractor who visited the building just two days before the collapse took photos of damage in the garage, showing cracks in concrete and wet floors in the pool equipment room of the condominium.
The contractor, who remained anonymous, told The Herald he thought the amount of water at Champlain Towers was unusual. But a staff member who was showing him around told the contractor that he “thought it was waterproofing issues,” adding that the staff member said they pumped water out of the pool equipment room so often that the building replaced pump motors every two years, according to The Herald report.
“I thought to myself, that’s not normal,” the contractor told The Herald, but said the staff member did not mention any structural damage in the building due to the water.
The deepest area of standing water in the building was located around parking spot 78 in the garage, which was directly under the condominium’s pool deck. The Herald reported Sunday that a 2018 inspection report flagged a flaw in the building’s original design, where a lack of proper drainage on the pool deck had caused “major structural damage.”
Mohammad Ehsani, an engineer and concrete restoration expert, reviewed the photos obtained by The Herald and told the newspaper that it was the worst damage documented in a building that he had seen so far.
“You can see extensive corrosion of the rebars at the bottom of the beam. That is very serious,” Ehsani told The Herald, saying that the condition of the beam is a “really major concern.”
Ehsani warned against rushing to the conclusion that the corroded beams were the cause of the collapse, though the damage captured in the contractor’s photos should have prompted alarm.
“In these buildings that are asymmetrical like this one, there is a possibility that if you have one part of the building that collapses, the building does some turning and twisting,” Ehsani told The Herald. “In this case, it is possible that a failure any place in this building could cause distortion to the frame of the building and could cause a collapse in any of the areas, not just adjacent [to the failure].”