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The remains of the final victim unaccounted for in the deadly apartment block collapse in Miami have been found and identified, her family announced.

The discovery ends a weeks-long wait for the family of 54-year-old Estelle Hedaya, who had been missing since her building collapsed on 24 June.

Estelle Hedaya’s brother, Ikey, told media that local New York police delivered the news to their family on July 26.

Her discovery brings the death toll in the collapse disaster to 98.

Search teams spent weeks combing the rubble for victims but said on July 23 that their search had finally ended. At that time, Estelle Hedaya was still unaccounted for.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said July 26 that police volunteers were continuing to “carefully and meticulously” sift through millions of pounds of debris at a secondary site looking for remains and personal items.

“We have done everything possible to bring closure to the families and I am especially proud that through these tireless efforts we were able at last to bring closure to all those who reported missing loved ones,” the mayor told reporters.

The number of people missing had initially been put as high as 159, but police brought that figure down after weeks of checking reports.

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According to officials, the site where the 12-floor Champlain Towers South building once stood is being treated as a crime scene.

What caused the 40-year-old building to fall to the ground remains unknown, but a 2018 report had found structural problems with the ocean-side block.

All but one of those killed were recovered dead in the rubble, with one victim dying in hospital.

A Jewish funeral is expected to take place for Estelle Hedaya in New York on July 27, the AP reports.

Estelle Hedaya’s family and friends described her as outgoing and fun-loving and said she loved to travel and try new things, like salsa dancing.

Other victims of the disaster include the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, a 92-year-old grandmother and the sister of Paraguay’s first lady.

Image source; AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

The science behind building construction has come a long way over the years, and today’s buildings tend to be much stronger and sturdier than those that have come before. However, there are still stories of recently-built buildings collapsing unexpectedly, such as the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Florida.

In the wake of that collapse, scientists and engineers have suggested that attitudes towards infrastructure and construction may need to evolve drastically in the years to come in order to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. But this is far from a new phenomenon. Throughout history, mankind has consistently sought to find ways to make buildings better and stronger.

Different methods and materials have been used throughout the ages to protect buildings and safeguard their inhabitants, but it’s only recently, with the advent of modern technology, that big breakthroughs have started to be made. Thanks to these exciting advancements in engineering, the future looks bright for buildings worldwide. Here are some of the top technologies that can help to strengthen buildings and reduce the risk of collapse, earthquake damage, and other events.

Levitating Foundations

For many years, base isolation has been targeted by engineers as a key method to make buildings stronger. It’s all about isolating the substructure of a building from the superstructure above. Recently, Japanese engineers have built on this idea to give us the “levitating foundation”, in which the superstructure of the building is actually supported on a thin layer of air, effectively levitating above its base.

The concept is complex in theory, but relatively simple in action: the building’s base is fitted with a powerful air compressor and a series of sensors. If the sensors detect seismic activity, the air compressor activates, forcing air between the building and its base, lifting the mass of the structure to isolate it from the forces in the ground.

Shock Absorbers

Many people are familiar with the idea of shock absorbers. We often associate them with automobiles, where they are used to absorb the energy of impacts in crashes and collisions, thereby reducing the risk of injury to the people inside the car. Well, shock absorbers can also be used in building construction too, designed to absorb energy from seismic waves. They’re designed to essentially transform kinetic energy into heat energy, via a physical process known as damping.

Shock absorbers, or dampers, can be positioned on the different levels of multi-storey buildings, connected to cylinders filled with oil that can absorb the heat energy. If an earthquake or other seismic event occurs, the dampers push into the oil, transforming the energy of the quake into heat energy and thereby protecting the building.

Replaceable Fuses

Many people rely on fuses around the home in various devices and appliances. These little electrical components serve as a form of protection against electrical fires and overheating appliances; if the current in an electrical circuit gets too high, the fuse blows, breaking the flow of electricity to prevent any further damage or risk.

Well, scientists a Stanford University and the University of Illinois have been looking at ways in which fuses can actually be used to prevent buildings from falling down or getting damaged during earthquakes too. The fuses, made of steel, are positioned between the frames of the building or at the bases of columns of a specially designed, flexible structure. Then, if an earthquake occurs, the fuses are effectively able to absorb seismic energy, and even if they “blow”, they can be replaced quite easily and cheaply.

Carbon Fiber Wraps

In many cases, these new technologies are designed to be incorporated in the construction of brand new buildings, but what if there was a way to protect older buildings from future damages by providing them with some kind of shield or reinforcement against seismic waves and other effects? Well, scientists believe they might have the answer in the form of carbon-fiber wrap.

This special kind of wrap, known as FRP or fiber-reinforced plastic wrap, is made with different types of carbon fibers and binding polymers like epoxy and vinyl ester. It’s a very strong yet lightweight material that can be retrofitted around existing support columns of old buildings, giving them a new level of strength and durability.

Final Word

These are just some of the ways in which modern technologies are changing the game for construction engineering, helping to make current and future buildings safer, stronger, and more reliable than ever before, potentially saving lives and averting disasters in the process.

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Image source; AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Search efforts for possible survivors in the rubble of a partially collapsed building in the Miami suburb of Surfside have been suspended ahead of the controlled demolition of the rest of the building.

Teams are preparing to bring down the remaining structure using explosives.

The demolition of Champlain Towers South was brought forward over safety fears due to approaching Tropical Storm Elsa.

Part of the 12-story block collapsed on June 24. Twenty-four people are known to have died and 121 are missing.

No survivors have been pulled from the rubble at the site in the Miami suburb of Surfside since the first few hours after the structure’s collapse.

The families of the missing were told in advance of the decision to pause the search effort, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Cava Levine said.

The decision to bring forward the demolition of the remaining block was made after concerns were raised over the approaching Tropical Storm Elsa, which is expected to reach the west coast of Florida on July 6.

The mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett, said strong winds in the coming days could bring down additional debris from the unstable structure, endangering the lives of the search teams.

“It was obvious that the building was a problem,” Charles Burkett said on July 3.

He added: “We agreed that the only solution for that problem was to eliminate it.”

Mayor Burkett said the controlled demolition could take place as early as July 4, and should be completed within days.

Miami Building Collapse Death Toll Rises to Five

Champlain Towers: Miami Building Collapses Killing at Least One Person

Miami Building Collapse: At Least Four Killed and 159 Missing

Announcing the temporary pause in the search operation, Mayor Cava Levine said the latest developments “do not signify that we are no longer focused on search and rescue”.

She said preparations for the demolition included “drilling into columns in the unsafe structure” and a pause was needed while the process was under way.

“We will begin the search and rescue once again on any sections of the pile that are safe to access as soon as we’re cleared,” she said.

Drones and 3D imaging equipment are being brought in to help those combing the rubble for signs of life.

The mayor signed a demolition order on July 2. She initially said she expected the demolition would not happen until late July.

There are no details so far about compensating the owners of the apartments. Meanwhile, officials are investigating other tower blocks in the area for structural faults.

What caused the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South to crumble remains unclear. A 2018 inspection, however, warned of “major” design flaws in the original design.

The building association’s board has said it will appoint an “independent receiver… to oversee the legal and claims process”.