US marks one year since Surfside apartment collapse that killed 98

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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The anniversary comes after victims, and their families reached a $1.2 billion settlement in the incident.

It has been a year in Florida since a condominium in Surfside collapsed, killing 98 people.

Friday’s anniversary came a day after a Florida judge approved $1.2 billion in damages for victims and their families.

The settlement was reached with various parties, including the condominium association, the City of Surfside, and several companies that designed the Champlain Towers South.

Judge Michael Hanzman praised the dozens of lawyers involved in reaching the settlement, which comes as part of an ongoing investigation into the collapse by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is expected to take years.

“This settlement is the best we can do. It’s a remarkable result,” he said.

Crews from the United States and Israel work in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South apartment in June 2021 [File: Lynne Sladky/The Associated Press]

On Friday, First Lady Jill Biden was due to deliver a speech at a memorial ceremony in Surfside with Mayor Shlomo Danzinger.

Also, on Friday’s agenda is an intimate evening gathering for families to light a torch.

Only three people – two teenagers and a woman – in the collapsed tower survived on June 24, 2021. Others escaped from the portion of the building that initially remained standing.

apartment collapse

A massive search over the next few days brought misery as only remains were found in the collapsed building.

The victims included residents and visitors who were Orthodox Jews, Hispanics, Israelis, Europeans, and elderly American citizens who traveled annually to Florida to escape the cold up north.

Earlier this month, the Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to declare June 24 Champlain Towers South-Surfside Remembrance Day in Miami-Dade County.

Despite the ceremonies and settlements, some victims’ families said the shutdown would not take place until the federal investigation is complete.

“This is a nightmare that never ends,” Pablo Langesfeld, whose 26-year-old son died in the collapse, told the Associated Press news agency.

Officials said the federal investigation into the deadly collapse entered a new phase last week, cutting and drilling concrete and steel to determine what role they played in the disaster.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology said in a press release that what is known as invasive testing will begin soon as researchers seek samples of materials collected at the collapsed Champlain Towers South site.

“This is an important step in the study that we can only take after months of careful research and preparation,” said Glenn Bell, co-leader.

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