Cause of Surfside building's collapse remains elusive after a year
One year after a 12-story condominium building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed, killing 98 people, the federal agency in charge of investigating the accident has yet to determine the cause.
The big picture: There is no single, obvious trigger for the collapse, investigators have said, and conclusions could take at least another year.
State of play: So far, a team from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has cataloged evidence from the Champlain Towers South and will soon begin "invasive testing" of physical evidence.
- Investigators will cut into steel and concrete samples, and carry out chemical and corrosion testing.
- They're also interviewing surviving residents, first responders, and others.
Between the lines: Tanya Brown-Giammanco, NIST's director of disaster and failure studies, wrote a blog post in March about why the institute's investigations can take years to complete.
- "Our engineers and scientists feel a great responsibility to get them right because this work often leads directly to changes in codes and standards that are used when constructing new buildings or renovating existing buildings," Brown-Giammanco wrote.
- Those code changes could save lives, she added.
By the numbers: While the federal investigation continues at a sluggish pace, two tentative settlements were reached last month involving families of the dead and surviving condo owners.
- Families, who must now file claims justifying how much their loved one's life was worth, are poised to receive nearly $1 billion, while around $96 million will be divided among property owners.
- More than 130 attorneys and staff who helped work out the settlements are now requesting about $100 million in legal fees.
Plus: In May, a developer from Dubai — Hussain Sajwani of DAMAC Properties — was the sole bidder in an auction to buy the now-cleared condo site, offering roughly $120 million. Sajwani plans to build a new luxury condo there.
What they're saying: Michael T. Fay of Avison Young's Miami office, the real estate broker who handled the site sale, told Axios he expects it would close sometime in July.
- "We're glad to be able to bring some closure," he said.
But families are still frustrated.
- "How don't we know what happened after a year? How don't we know who might be liable?" Martin Langesfeld, whose sister Nicole was killed in the collapse, told CBS Miami last week. "We need answers."
What's ahead: Surfside officials have planned a memorial at the site Friday, from 10am to noon.