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Engineer warned of structural damage before Miami Florida building collapse

A consultant engineer found alarming evidence of crumbling concrete in a Miami apartment block – three years before a deadly collapse.

An engineering consultant warned three years before the collapse of the South Florida Condominium building, that there was evidence of “major structural damage” to the concrete below the pool deck and “abundant” cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the underground garage, the New York Times reported.

The engineer’s report, which included photos of cracks in the columns and concrete tumbling, that had exposed steel reinforcements on the deck, was intended to help shape plans for a repair project set to take place soon, more than two and a half years after the warnings were issued.

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A large section of the 12-story building in the Miami suburb of Surfside collapsed suddenly in the early hours of Thursday as residents slept.

Four people are confirmed dead, with 159 people still unaccounted for. Search and rescue teams are working through the unstable debris.

The Times reported that the building complex’s management has released some of the problems in the wake of the collapse but it was not until city officials released the 2018 report on Friday that the full nature of the damage became apparent.

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The consultant engineer, Frank Morabito wrote in the 2018 report: “Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.”

He also added that the waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive was failing, “causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.”

Morabito gave no indication that the building was at risk of collapse, though he noted that the needed repairs would be aimed at “maintaining the structural integrity of the building.” The Times reported.

The condominium complex was preparing for a recertification that is required by state law of similar buildings in the area that have reached 40 years of age and was aware that repairs were needed for it to pass the inspection.

A lawyer who represents the association that operates the building, said while the report outlined problems to fix, the board had no warning that there was a major safety risk, according to the Times.

A group of scientists and engineers have been asked to conduct a preliminary probe into what may have caused the collapse. They will decide whether to a complete investigation that would likely inform future building codes.

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