Surfside Mayor Says They Need More Luck in Miami Building Collapse

Mayor Charles Burkett said that officials were focusing all efforts on search and rescue and that answers about structural problems would come later.

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Surfside’s mayor says search teams ‘don’t have a resource problem, we’ve had a luck problem.’

Mayor Charles Burkett of Surfside, Fla., left, talking with Rachel Spiegel, right, who is looking for information on the Champlain Towers South Condo building, on Saturday.Credit…Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

June 27, 2021, 11:02 a.m. ET

As residents of Surfside, Fla., expressed anguish and frustration at the pace of the search-and-rescue mission at the site of a deadly condominium collapse, the town’s mayor described the situation as one of bad luck.

“We are not resource-poor,” said Mayor Charles Burkett of Surfside on Sunday morning. “We don’t have a resource problem, we’ve had a luck problem. We just need to start to get a little more lucky right now.”

Mr. Burkett, speaking on the ABC News program “This Week,” said officials are focusing their full attention on the search operation at the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building.

“Buildings don’t fall down in America,” he said. “There was something obviously very, very wrong at this building, and we need to get to the bottom of it, but not today, not tomorrow and not for a long time, because our first priority and our only priority is to pull our residents out of that rubble.”

The painstaking search entered its fourth day Sunday. Teams of rescuers from Mexico and Israel had arrived to help, Mr. Burkett said, and a host of tools and methods have been employed to aid the operations.

He also addressed concerns about the safety of a similar nearby building, built by the same contracto”We need to get in and understand what’s going on with the sister building,” Mr. Burkett said. After conversations with Senator Rick Scott and the Miami-Dade County mayor, he said an investigation would be underway shortly, and residents of the other building had alternative housing options provided to them. Next week, he said, “An army of engineers are going to get in there and pore over that building from top to bottom.”

He added, “I don’t know if I’d be comfortable staying in that building until I knew for sure that they had done a comprehensive top-to-bottom study on what’s going on in the systems in that building.”

The dayslong search had been excruciating for the people still waiting to hear about their loved ones. But Mr. Burkett said that things were moving forward. “I was there this morning, and I took a walk around the site. I did see a substantial difference from when I left last night at about 11 o’clock. We’ve got waves of search-and-rescue teams that are just flowing over the site, going in and going out.”

He added that a fire deep in the rubble at the site, which had complicated rescue efforts, seemed to be out.

To exasperated residents, Mr. Burkett said, “We are working 24 hours a day, nonstop, nothing else on our mind.” He added, “We’re going to keep going until everybody is out.”

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