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Miami Beach apartment building ordered to evacuate

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The rest of the Champlain South tower is seen being demolished in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach, late on July 4. 
The rest of the Champlain South tower is seen being demolished in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach, late on July 4.  Giorgio Viera/AFP/Getty Images

The rest of the Champlain Towers South building was demolished Sunday night, and officials hope it will now be safer for rescue teams to expand their search with fewer reinforcements.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he hopes the demolition will eliminate a potentially dangerous threat to workers and possibly open an estimated third of the remaining pile to search and rescue teams.

With the threat of Tropical Storm Elsa looming, officials and rescue crews were increasingly concerned about the safety of those searching the rubble and the potential the rest of the structure would collapse.

Background: The demolition came after part of the building fell early in the morning on June 24, collapsing approximately 55 of the building’s 136 units. Crews immediately began digging through up to 16 feet of concrete and have confirmed at least 24 people were killed, including children. There are 121 people who remain unaccounted for.

The structure was demolished around 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday using a method Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called “energetic felling,” describing it as a process that “uses small, strategically placed explosives and relies on gravity to bring the building down in place.”

Search efforts at the partially collapsed building were paused Saturday around 4 p.m. so engineers could secure the site and prepare for the demolition.

“As soon as the building is down and once the site is deemed secure, we will have our first responders back on the pile to immediately resume their work,” Levine Cava said Sunday night.

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