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Saturday, July 24, 2021

NPR: Florida town official said building was safe

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NPR: Florida town official said building was safe
NPR: Florida town official said building was safe

A town inspector told residents of a high-rise that they needn't worry about a 2018 engineering report that found significant structural damage.

This report produced by Zachary Goelman.

A town inspector had assured residents of a high-rise condominium in Surfside, Florida, that their building was sound a month after a report warned of major structural damage.

That's according to NPR, which reported that the inspector said the building was in "very good shape." The Champlain Towers South building partially collapsed in the early hours of Thursday as residents slept.

Nine bodies have so far been recovered and more than 150 people are still missing as rescue teams pick through the rubble looking for signs of life.

What caused nearly half the 40-year-old, 12-story, 156-unit building to cave in has yet to be determined.

In 2018 an engineering firm retained by the building found serious concrete deterioration in the underground parking garage and major structural damage in the concrete slab beneath the pool deck.

The engineer reported the deterioration would "expand exponentially" if it was not repaired in the near future.

But according to minutes of a meeting first reported by NPR, a Surfside inspector named Ross Prieto, who had reviewed the engineering report, met residents the following month and assured them the building was safe.

NPR reported Prieto is no longer employed by Surfside.

He told the Miami Herald newspaper he did not recall getting the report.

Officials said they still hoped survivors may be alive under the rubble, aided by air pockets in the debris, but they have not detected any signs of life.

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