A Miami-Dade County grand jury will look into ways to prevent a disaster similar to the collapse of a condo building last month that killed dozens of people and prompted concerns over the structural integrity of high-rise buildings in the region.
In a statement released Wednesday, county State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she has requested the panel, pending the conclusion of a long-term investigation that will determine the cause of the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.
“As a community, we remain shaken and horrified by the immense loss of life and the sheer destruction caused by the collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium building,” Fernandez Rundle said. “The members of the Grand Jury enthusiastically agreed to accept this challenge and voted in favor of conducting such an investigation.”
The panel would look into how to prevent a similar occurrence in all buildings and structures “in the coastal, intercoastal and surrounding areas of our county, state and nation,” she said.
Grand juries in Miami-Dade County usually have two functions: to issue criminal indictments and to explore broader issues of public health and safety, the Miami Herald reported. Fernandez Rundle said grand jury reports have often led to much-needed reforms.
She cited the adoption of stricter building codes following the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
The Surfside collapse spurred a massive search and rescue effort. What was left of the structure was demolished over the weekend and officials have shifted gears from a search and rescue to a recovery mission.
Officials announced Wednesday that they had recovered 18 more bodies from the rubble, bringing the death toll to at least 54, with more than 80 others still unaccounted for.
In an effort to get answers, a series of lawsuits and criminal and civil investigations have been initiated.
And at least five lawsuits have been filed on behalf of residents who survived or are feared dead. One lawyer involved in the litigation said the collapse raises widespread concerns about infrastructure issues and the trust we put in those responsible for them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.