MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – Structural engineers hired to investigate what caused the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside will have to wait until search crews have finished their work.
The site is currently under the control of the Miami-Dade Police Department and is classified as a crime scene following the collapse on June 24. That’s according to Allyn Kilsheimer, a structural engineer hired by the town.READ MORE: Seminoles Suspend Sports Betting After Court Rulings
As of Sunday, 95 of the 97 victims recovered have been identified.
Miami-Dade County said last week that, moving forward, it will only be reporting the number of victims who have been identified, “out of respect for the families who are still waiting and to ensure we are reporting the most accurate possible numbers.”
Officials vowed to continue the search until every loved one is found.
While families and the community grieve the victims, some residents worry that whatever caused the collapse could happen to their building, too, Kilsheimer said.
The first night that he was on the scene, Kilsheimer, who also investigated the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, said he had about 20 or 30 theories of possible triggers.
Since then, he said he’s eliminated some but added five or six more, but won’t be able to narrow it down while the search continues.
“Until they do their job, we can’t go in to do samples of materials and take those samples and test them to understand what the various components of the building that came down were,” he told CNN.
Multiple Requests For AccessREAD MORE: 23rd Annual 'A Home For The Holidays At The Grove' Comes To CBS On Sunday, December 5th
This week, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle acknowledged the “multiple requests by engineers and attorneys” to gain access to the site.
“Engineers from the federal agency National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were deployed to Surfside with Congressional authority to gather evidence and determine how and why the Champlain South Tower collapsed. NIST is the fact-finding agency responsible for investigating building collapses such as the World Trade Center, much like the NTSB investigates plane crashes,” Rundle said in a statement.
“We cannot forget that the scene and all the related materials are still under active investigation, preservation, and examination, and as usual, law enforcement is in charge of the scene,” Rundle noted.
“It is my understanding that once NIST, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and Miami-Dade Police Departments determine that it is safe and appropriate for others to gain access to the site, they will be permitted to do so under guidelines set forth by those agencies,” Rundle said.
Crews: ‘We Are Almost There’
Aside from brief weather and safety delays concerning the dangerous and unstable conditions at the collapse site, search crews have been working around the clock.
At least 22 million pounds of debris and concrete have been removed from the site, according to Miami-Dade County.
“On the original collapse site, we are almost at the bottom,” Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta told CNN Thursday. “Does that mean we are almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the entire site and find no more human remains we are not done.”
“We are almost there,” Zabaleta added.MORE NEWS: Sharp Increase In Hospitalized Children With Covid Investigated In South Africa
(©2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)