Following the collapse of the building in Florida, authorities evacuated the similar tower from Reuters

© Reuters. PHOTO FILE: A view shows the partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, United States on June 26, 2021. REUTERS / Marco Bello

By Andy Sullivan

SURFSIDE, Florida (Reuters) – Two days after the collapse of a Florida seafront building, authorities said they were helping residents of a similar tower near them evacuate while examining them for structural defects that could indicate a risk similar.

“I have to be able to say it’s safe, and I can’t now,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Reuters. “In an abundance of caution it’s probably prudent to let people transfer for a couple of weeks while we check.”

The effort highlighted the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the immediate collapse of the 12-story South Champlain Tower, which left four dead and 159 missing in a luxury beach community north of Miami.

The 40-year-old building had been repaired after a 2018 review that found “major structural damage.”

That condominium was built in the same year by the same developer as Champlain Tower North, a similar tower located nearby.

Burkett said he had no information to indicate that the north tower had similar structural defects. But he said the Federal Emergency Management Agency transferred residents for several weeks to allow a thorough overhaul of the property.

Evacuation is not mandatory, he said, but many residents are impatient to leave.

“There are people who don’t want to sleep in a building that could fall at any moment. The odds of that happening are very low, but you know what? I don’t think people want to sleep in a building that has very little chance of falling, ”he said.

Condominium council members did not respond to requests for comment. A resident of the building, who arrived by phone, declined to comment.

By noon, the building seemed to be at least partially occupied. A person was standing on a balcony of the building, looking out over the beach, where police had erected a plastic barrier to keep spectators away.

Miami-Dade authorities have ordered a review of all other 40-year-old buildings in the county to ensure they had undergone an engineering evaluation, as needed.

Other residents in the area said they were shocked by the collapse but did not personally feel at risk. “I think it was an isolated event,” said Nikolaus Benigni, who lives in a 25-year-old tower nearby.

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