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Drilling almost complete to demolish the rest of the collapsed apartment

80 percent of the drilling was completed by Sunday morning, and the remaining structure could be dismantled that night, said Raide Jadallah, Miami-Dade deputy fire chief, relatives of those missing in the collapse.

This schedule – faster than originally expected but still not certain – drew applause from families eager to resume the search. No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse on June 24th.

Search in the Surfside building has been on hold since Saturday afternoon so workers can start drilling. Jadallah said the suspension was necessary because the drilling could cause the structure to fail, but one family member called the news “devastating”.

So far, rescuers have recovered the remains of 24 people, 121 are still missing. Many others barely escaped. Miami-Dade police added Graciela Cattarossi, 48, and Gonzalo Torre, 81, to the list of confirmed dead on Saturday night.

Once the structure is demolished, the remains will be removed immediately to allow rescuers to access parts of the garage area that are the focus of interest for the first time, Jadallah said. That could give a clearer picture of cavities that exist in the rubble that could potentially house survivors. Despite the dwindling chance of anyone staying alive in the rubble, officials have promised to keep looking.

“There’s no one really talking about stopping this bailout,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told Face the Nation to CBS. “In my opinion, this rescue operation will take until everyone is pulled out of this rubble.”

Officials began pondering the demolition of the Champlain Towers on Thursday as portions of the remaining building were moved, putting rescuers at risk and causing a 15-hour break in their work.

Approaching Tropical Storm Elsa added urgency to these plans as projections suggested strong winds could prevail in the area through Monday. The latest predictions have shifted the storm westward, largely sparing South Florida, but National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Molleda said the area could still feel an impact.

“We primarily expect gusts with tropical storm strength,” said Molleda, referring to gusts over 64 km / h.

The detonation is set to bring the remaining portion of the building straight down and to the side of the street, away from the existing pile of rubble, Jadallah said. Search and rescue should resume between 15 and 60 minutes after the structure was demolished, he said.

The demolition method is called “energetic felling,” which uses small explosive devices and relies on gravity. Levine Cava said this should put the building in place to contain the collapse into the immediate area.

State officials said they hired BG Group, a general contractor based in Delray, Florida, to oversee the demolition. How the company was selected was initially not known.

A spokesman for the state’s emergency management department said the company had subcontracted to Maryland-based Controlled Demolition Inc., which experts believe is one of the few companies in the US that is demolishing structures with explosives.

CDI is “probably one of the best” in the business, said Steve Schwartz, a board member of the National Demolition Association. He described the company’s president and owner, Mark Loizeaux, as “cool, calm and collected”.

Implosions – where explosives are used to topple a building on itself – typically trigger charges in seconds in quick succession, said Scott Homrich, who heads the National Demolition Association and his own demolition company in Detroit, Michigan , operates. The purpose of dropping the explosives at intervals is to break open the building at the same time as it collapses.

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