Two Weeks After the Surfside Condo Building Collapse, What We Know and Don't Know

Two weeks after the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed, officials still don't know what caused the building to suddenly fall but have lost hope of finding anyone alive.

The 12-story condominium building partially collapsed in the early-morning hours of June 24 while many residents were asleep. In the weeks since, the death toll continued to climb as the number of survivors remained stagnant at only two, both of whom were found within hours of the collapse, and on Wednesday, rescue efforts transitioned to recovery efforts.

Officials have vowed to thoroughly investigate the collapse, but the process could take weeks or even months. Here's what we know—and don't know—two weeks after the collapse.

Surfside Two Weeks Later
A portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the building on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Causes

The cause of the collapse is still unknown, although people have many theories that largely stem from an engineer's 2018 report. The report found cracked tile on multiple balconies, which Frank Morabito, president of Morabito Consultants, noted often indicates there's structural damage to the balcony slab that must be repaired. It also found failed waterproofing in the pool deck and entrance area was causing "major structural damage" to the concrete structural slab below.

"Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially," the report said, noting that the area is designed to have water sitting on it until it evaporates, which is a "major error" in the design.

Concrete repairs that had been made in the garage were found to be "failing" and causing additional concrete cracking and spiraling. An estimate provided by the engineering company found the repairs to be at least $9 million and an April email from the condominium association to homeowners put the cost for necessary renovations at $15 million.

Surfside Two Weeks Later
Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 26, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

"I think they're going to be able to find the reasons. I use the plural because I think a number of factors have played a part in this case," Atorod Azizinamini, a professor of civil engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology, told Newsweek. "At the end of the day, you're going to see there were likely several factors combined."

Robert Frosch, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University, was also confident the cause would be uncovered eventually and said there are likely lessons to be learned from the collapse. He found it rare that the building collapsed after 40 years and noted that most structural collapses happen during construction.

"We don't have buildings falling down regularly; this is an extremely rare occurrence," Frosch said. "Investigators will figure out why so we can continue to make sure we improve the practice, if anything is needed to protect the safety and welfare of the public."

Surfside Two Weeks Later
Rescue workers with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue during a moment of silence near the memorial site for victims of the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 7, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. Families have been informed by officials that operations to search for survivors in the Surfside condo collapse would be ending and shift to recovery efforts. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Deaths

As of Thursday morning, 60 people were confirmed dead and 35 victims had been identified. Detectives are working with the medical examiner to identify 25 victims and notify next of kin.

"Every victim we recover is handled with extreme care and compassion," Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. "Please pray for the families that are grappling with the impossible news and grieving."

Surfside Two Weeks Later
A member of the Israeli search and rescue team (left) salutes in front of the rubble that once was Champlain Towers South during a moment of prayer and silence in Surfside, Florida, on. July 7, 2021. Florida rescuers have made the "extremely difficult decision" to end their search for survivors in the rubble of an apartment building that partially collapsed two weeks ago, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday. "It is with deep profound sadness...that we made the extremely difficult decision to transition from operation search and rescue to recovery," Levine Cava told reporters in Surfside, adding that the transition would formally take place at midnight. (Photo by JOSE A. IGLESIAS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Missing people

Officials aren't certain how many people are missing, as detectives have run into roadblocks attempting to contact some people who first reported a family member or friend missing. So they're unsure how many people were actually in the building at the time of the collapse, but there are potentially 80 people unaccounted for, according to Levine Cava.

While there were hopes of finding at least one of the missing people alive in the rubble, the search mission is now focused on recovering the bodies of deceased individuals to help bring closure to their families.

On Wednesday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the consensus of those closest to the rescue effort was that the possibility of finding someone alive was "near zero." Despite there being seemingly "no chance" of finding life in the remains of the building, he added, "a miracle is still possible."

Surfside Two Weeks Later
Search teams continue work to recover remains as the search and rescue effort is reported to be transitioning to a recovery operation in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 7, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Officials say the death toll climbed to 46, with 94 still unaccounted for. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Surfside Two Weeks Later
The remaining part of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building fell in a controlled demolition on July 4, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. The decision by officials to bring down the rest of the building was brought on by the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa and fears that the structure might come down in an uncontrolled fashion. Over 100 people are still missing. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)