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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  July 2, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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learn how you could pay as little as $0 at happening now, the death toll climbs in that florida condo collapse with the discovery of two more victims, and now a hurricane is threatening to complicate the delicate search operation. we're standing by for a news conference this hour. we'll have live coverage. also, a surge of holiday travel is raising deep concerns about a post-holiday covid surge as the highly transmissible delta variant spreads across the u.s. we'll talk about that this hour with the surgeon general of the united states vivek murthy. and after two decades of war, u.s. troops are pulling out of afghanistan departing a key air base today with the white house saying expect a full withdrawal by august, despite fear of that country's collapse.
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we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." ♪ we're standing by for a news conference on the search for 128 people still missing in the collapse of that surfside, florida, condo tower. cnn's brian todd is joining us. he has the very latest developments. more victims have been recovered, and now there is potential for a hurricane to actually hit the area. >> reporter: right when you thought it couldn't get any worse, wolf, take a look behind me. these rescue workers have been working feverishly all day. i count at least 30 of them on that pile right now. they're just really toiling away down there. as concerns grow over the stability of the existing structure right here, also we are getting new information tonight about what the people who ran this building knew about its structural problems a while ago.
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tonight, new information showing the champlain towers south condo board knew of severe concrete deterioration months before the collapse. in an october 2020 letter, an engineering firm hired by the building highlighted the pool structure as a problem area. they stated, full restoration repair work could not be performed, in part, because it could destabilized surrounding concrete and because the pool was to remain in service. two additional victims last night including the 7-year-old daughter of a miami city firefighter. the father was working at the site at the time and was called over by rescuers. >> every night since this last wednesday has been immensely difficult for everybody, and particularly the families that have been impacted. but last night was uniquely different. it was truly different and more difficult for our first
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responders. >> reporter: and they could face more challenges ahead. >> this area could see tropical storm force winds. >> reporter: meanwhile the very similar high-rise on the next block is getting further inspection. >> our building initial in conjunction with our efforts are now getting ready to x-ray columns and do a deep dive, a forensic study, into the structure. >> reporter: planning now underway for demolition of the remnants of the collapsed tower, although it could take weeks. >> that building standing definitely has been a huge obstacle. and the hazards for our men and women that are out there working. >> reporter: this structural engineer says it's not clear if the standing structure of the champlain south tower is in imminent danger of collapse or if there's a risk of heavy slabs or other debris falling. still, the possibility of that and the fact that some of the rubble has shifted is worrisome. >> should it be demolished? >> the bottom line is there's the emotional issue and then there's the structural issue.
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most probably, this portion of the building that you see the debris hanging from, that portion of the building most probably should be taken down. but there's a sheer wall that you can't see from this view that's a solid clean wall if you looked at it from the ocean. from that sheer wall beyond, it may or may not need to be demolished. >> reporter: he has been hired by the town of surfside to investigate this collapse and assess the safety of other nearby buildings. a key safety concern, a large column and a big concrete slab that are hanging from the open decimated facade. >> you know, the hanging debris is kind of unstable. >> reporter: another big worry, elsa, the storm that may or may not be a hurricane when it approaches this area and may or may not hit this area. >> the first thing i'd worry about even if it's 40-mile-an-hour winds is debris getting blown off of this building. >> reporter: he says it's not
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going to be until after they can fully account for everyone who's inside that rubble. and then after that, after they can actually demolish this building, and after that until the experts like him can actually get into this rubble physically and painstakingly examine it only until after all of that is done, he says, can they begin to start to determine the cause of this collapse. that is all going to take months, he says. so he is asking all of us to be very patient. wolf? >> all right, brian, thank you very much. brian todd, we'll get back to you. in the meantime, let's get some more on all of these late-breaking developments. we have a certified emergency manager, former miami-dade fire chief with us as well. dave, as the death toll continues to rise, 20 confirmed dead right now, what exactly are the first responders up against tonight? >> well, they're continuing to work around the clock. it's the continued threat of any
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falling debris and unstable structure. and they're still maintaining high hopes, continuing to work. obviously we're monitoring the weather. we have contingency plans for the weather. as a problem we're confronted with, we work the problem and move on. >> michael, you've responded to the aftermath of incidents like oklahoma city, the bombing there, 9/11. responders are now more than a week into this rescue effort, day eight, approaching day nine. does it get more difficult as time goes on? >> yes, sir, it absolutely does. these people are working diligently, professionally. but everybody is getting most likely a lot more tired than they were seven days ago. and as we all get more tired, sometimes we start to just feel fatigue, and mistakes can happen. these people are working diligently to make no mistakes,
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to do the very best they can to find every single person that they can. >> you know, dave, as we reported, a miami firefighter lost his 7-year-old daughter in that collapse. that firefighter was part of the search and rescue team on the scene. that discovery has further added to the stress, certainly the trauma on first responders who were there. can you talk a little bit more about the toll this is all taking? >> well, you know, this has become personal to all of us. this is just a devastating tragedy not only to our community but to the people we know. we have a lot of people that, you know, come across who say, my loved one is in there. obviously being a firefighter, having a firefighter lose his daughter was devastating to all of us. but the hope of bringing closure to the families is what keeps us going. and the crews are being rotated
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now. we have fresh crews coming in from around the country. from fema we have five new urban search and rescue teams. and as we rotate out our florida teams that have been working since this happened, we're constantly trying to bring closure to these families. but it was devastating last night for all of us. >> it was so heartbreaking. everything down there is so heartbreaking right now. michael, first responders are facing two difficult scenarios at the moment. the pile certainly and the incoming storm. how far back could severe weather set this entire process? >> wolf, it could stall it. but knowing these firefighters, as we do, they will work in any condition that they can to try and get a successful rescue. not knowing what the winds will do, though, to the debris and other areas of things may shift, it may slow them down a bit. but knowing these people, they will work 200% to keep going.
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>> they are amazing people and they are heroes indeed. they're risking their own lives to get the job done. michael, thank you very much. we're standing by, once again, for a news conference this hour. it's coming up very soon on the florida condo collapse. we'll have live coverage. also coming up, rising covid cases in parts of the united states as the highly transmissible delta variant takes hold across the country even as millions of americans are traveling this holiday weekend. i'll talk about it with the u.s. surgeon general dr. vivek murthy. there he is. he's standing by live. we'll discuss when we come back. but if you're a kid with diabetes, it's more. it's the simple act of enjoying time with friends, knowing you understand your glucose levels. ♪ open talenti and raise the jar. to gelato made from scratch. raise the jar to all five layers. raise the jar to the best gelato...
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knowing your doctor can watch over your heart. ♪ once again, we're standing by for a news conference this hour on the florida condo collapse. we'll bring it to you live as soon as it starts. 20 confirmed dead, 128 people unaccounted for. we'll see if those numbers go up. stand by for that. meanwhile, many u.s. airports are expecting to see the highest number of passengers this weekend since before the covid pandemic begin. with about one-third of u.s. adults unvaccinated, there's deep concern that all of that travel potentially could fuel the spread of the highly
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transmissible delta virus variant. our aviation correspondent pete muntean is over at the reagan national airport. airports are bracing for some of the busiest travel days since the start of the pandemic. what should travelers expect? >> reporter: well, wolf, this july 4th travel rush will actually look a lot more like normal. the tsa says numbers at nashville and myrtle beach are higher than 2019 pre-pandemic. the tsa screened about 2.5 million people just country. we will see if today sets a new pandemic-era air travel record. in fact, united airlines thinks that monday will be its busiest day in the last 16 months. but airlines got a lot smaller during the pandemic. that means fewer planes and fewer workers to staff them, all of this makes it harder for airlines to bounce back from bad weather as delays and cancelations, canceled or
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delayed about 10,000 flights just yesterday. this means that the vast majority of americans will elect to drive. aaa says 43 million americans will hit the road. that number actually higher than 2019 pre-pandemic. what's so interesting here is that aaa says the real problems will begin on monday. that's when everyone begins coming home. aaa anticipates traffic in some major metro areas like san francisco could be three times the norm. >> thank you, pete. joining us now, the surgeon general of the united states dr. vivek murthy. dr. murthy, thank you so much for joining us. as you know, president biden says he's not concerned about another major outbreak of coronavirus. but do you feel the same way? a lot of people out there are deeply concerned. >> well, wolf, it's good to see you, too. i don't think that we will see a surge like what we saw in january where we had an extraordinary number of cases,
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more than 200,000 a day at times and where we had thousands of people dying each day. but i do think it's very possible that we will see pockets in our country where we do see mini surges as among those who are not vaccinated. right now what's happening, wolf, is that we have parts of our country which have 70, 80% vaccination rates. but then we have other parts of our country where the vaccination rate is below 30%. and it is the latter group that i am most worried about, especially as we approach this holiday weekend. if you are vaccinated you are actually at low risk of getting sick. but if you are not vaccinated and if you're going to be traveling and seeing others from various households gathering indoors and if you're not masked, then there is a significant risk that the virus will continue to spread. >> that risk to kids 12 and under especially who can't get vaccinated. california's covid-19 positivity rate, dr. murthy, has actually doubled in recent weeks. could we see similarly troubling trends in other states?
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>> wolf, we're already seeing increases in positivity rates in various regions in the country, especially where the vaccination rates are low. and keep in mind when you look at a state, regardless of what its overall vaccination rate is, there will be some pockets which have high vaccination rates and some that have low vaccination rates. we are seeing cases tick up in regions of the country where vaccination rates are low. this is being driven, in part, by the delta variant. the most transmissible version of covid-19 that we have seen to date, and one that makes it all the more important and urgent for us to get vaccinated as soon as possible. >> i know you mentioned this earlier. i just want to be precise, dr. murthy. if you're fully vaccinated, you're fully vaccinated, i'm fully vaccinated. you should not be worried about the dangers of this delta variant, that the dangers it poses, is that what i'm hearing? >> so the good news about the delta variant is that the
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vaccines that we have in the united states appear to be effective. and we've got some good data on the mrna vaccines. we've got this growing body of data on the j&j vaccine, which is reassuring. but you are well protected, particularly against severe disease and death if you are vaccinated. but you've got to be fully vaccinated. and one thing we did find is that if you're only partially vaccinated, if, for example, you've only had one dose of the mrna vaccine, then your level of protection is dramatically lower. so, critical to get fully vaccinated. and if you are and your risk of getting sick or transmitting the virus to others is low. >> you need two doses of the moderna or the pfizer. you said people who live with someone who isn't vaccinated, including children, should still consider wearing masks. should those of us who are fully vaccinated wear masks when we're in public potentially around unvaccinated people? >> well, it's a great question,
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wolf. and this is a place where the cdc looked closely at the data. and what they found is that if you're fully vaccinated, your risk of getting sick or transmitting it to others is low, which is why they issue guidance to give people flexibility to choose to wear a mask or not. some people who are either in higher-risk scenarios themselves or who are not comfortable with even a low level of risk or who might be living at home with kids who are unvaccinated or others who are vulnerable, they might decide i want to keep wearing my mask, or maybe they live in an area where there's a lot of virus circulating. and if they make that decision, that's okay. we're all going to decide where we are in terms of our risk tolerance. but the bottom line is what people should feel reassured about is that if you're fully vaccinated, you have a high degree of protection. so if you choose not to wear a mask, you are still at low risk of getting sick. >> what's your bottom-line main message to the american people tonight as we head into this fourth of july weekend? >> well, wolf, my bottom-line
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message is this. we have seen so much as a country over the last year. we've endured just unimaginable loss of lives, of our livelihood, of our way of life. but we are blessed now to have not one but three vaccines in the united states which have helped save countless lives already, helped drop our cases and hospitalizations by 90% from the january peak. what we've learned over this past year and a half is that these vaccines are a pathway out of this pandemic. we made a lot of progress, but we're not done. and that's really important to remember. we are not done yet. and new variants like delta will continue to make it important for us to push forward not just in getting vaccinated ourselves but in turning around, talking to our family members, the people we love and asking them if they have been vaccinated. if they haven't, ask them why, listen to them, understand if they have questions, go to and help them find a place where they can get vaccinated. but that is how we turn this pandemic around by taking steps to protect ourselves, protect the people we love. and the vaccination's really the
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key to doing that. >> you always provide us with critically important life and death recommendations, dr. vivek murthy, you're absolutely right. this pandemic is still there, it's still out there, we all got to be careful. thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks so much, wolf. take care and stay safe. >> you too. stay with us. once again, we're awaiting this news conference on the search effort over at the scene of the deadly condo collapse in surfside, florida. we'll have live coverage. also ahead, we're getting new details right now on how the house minority leader kevin mccarthy and other house republicans are planning to cope with the new investigation of the january 6th insurrection. oh! don't burn down the duplex. terminix. this past year has felt like a long, long norwegian winter.
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we're standing by for top officials down in surfside, florida, they're about to hold a news conference updating us on the search at the scene of the deadly condo collapse. we'll go live as soon as it begins. stand by for that. also tonight, america's longest war's on the verge of ending but not without controversy or criticism of president biden's decision to pull u.s. forces out of afghanistan. let's go to our senior white house correspondent phil mattingly. he is working the story for us. phil, the president seemed to be sort of visibly frustrated by reporters' questions today about this historic withdrawal. tell us about that. >> reporter: yeah, it's exactly right, wolf. the president exasperated, in part, because he wanted to talk about 850,000 jobs being added or a july 4th holiday as the nation has emerged from the pandemic. but also, in part, because of how he views the decision he made. wolf, when you talk to white house officials about this
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withdrawal, they made clear the president is exceedingly comfortable in his decision to withdraw, and despite the deteriorating security situation on the ground in afghanistan, intelligence reports make very clear the taliban could overtake the afghan government in as little as six months. that has not shifted the president's view on his decision. the president reiterated that when he was talking to reporters, got frustrated when reporters asked him multiple questions about the issue. but those questions underscore a clear reality in afghanistan right now. while the president and his team may be comfortable and the pace of the drawdown has been more rapid than initially laid out. there are very real questions on the ground about the u.s.'s long-term strategy on the ground in afghanistan. there will be 650 troops left in the country for the embassy. they are trying to lay out exactly how they will target potential terror issues in that country as well, how they will deal with allies, and what the support level will be, if any, beyond humanitarian assistance
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if the taliban is able to move on kabul, as many expect at this point in time. so there are real questions here. but there's no question about one thing, the withdrawal is happening, bagram air base was turned over to afghanistan forces yesterday, more than 20 years the symbolic and strategic center of the u.s. effort there now no longer in u.s. hands. this is happening, it's happening quickly. and the president, whether he wants to talk about it or not, is very clear in his decision that he made, wolf. >> i'm not going to answer any more questions about afghanistan. look, it's fourth of july. [ inaudible ] i'm concerned that you guys are asking me questions that i'll answer next week. but this is the holiday weekend, i'm going to celebrate it. we're bringing our troops home. all across america people are going to ball games and doing good things. this is good. i'll be answering all your negative questions -- not negative, your legitimate questions. >> and they are indeed legitimate questions. the president, wolf, also noted when he was asked again about the deteriorating security situation, 20 years he said the
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u.s. has been fighting this war for 20 years. the implicit acknowledgment there. 20 years and it's still in this place. there's no reason for u.s. troops to stay at this point, wolf. >> yeah, they say america's longest war. phil mattingly, stand by, we'll get back to you. cnn's anna coren is in afghanistan for us. she's joining us live from kabul. anna, how capable are the afghans right now by themselves against the taliban? there's deep concern, as you well know. >> reporter: a deep concern absolutely, wolf. and there are enormous challenges ahead for the afghan national forces. they're being taking, you know, losses on the battlefield while the taliban have been gaining momentum around the country, launching these offenses, particularly in the north. so you have the afghan security forces losing territory, often fleeing and surrendering these
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outposts have they haven't been rel resourced. and these propaganda videos being fed by the taliban virtually on a daily basis. that plays into the optics of fear and uncertainty. so within the security forces, morale is extremely low. there are 300,000 security forces in the country, which have been trained by the americans, we should add. and they will most likely be protecting the capital here in kabul as well as the provincial cities, which the taliban have yet to penetrate. and that was the advice by general scott miller to his afghan counterparts to say that's where they need to focus their energy and attention on the major cities where the taliban are yet to come. but, wolf, there is no denying huge challenges ahead, even though president biden, as we have heard, he believes that it's time for afghanistan to
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stand up to protect their own people. america has been here now for 20 years. as we know, they can't stay here forever. >> all right, anna coren, be careful over there in kabul. thank you very, very much. joining us now for some analysis, retired u.s. general wesley clark. he's a cnn military analyst and a former nato supreme ally commander. general clark, thank you very much for joining us. you and i have been talking about u.s. troops in afghanistan for 20 years. 20 years ago you and i were talking about it. american troops, and not just american troops, nato troops have been there for a long time. they're all getting ready to leave within the next few weeks. is this, general clark, the right time to make this move? >> i think it's a good time to make the move. honestly, it should've been made before. you know, wolf, if you look back over 20 years despite the incredible efforts that we've made, the tremendous sacrifices by u.s. forces and their families on this, you cannot
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build someone else's country for them. you cannot succeed in a counterinsurgency effort when you cannot isolate the battlefields. and we never dealt effectively with pakistan. we never put sufficient resources into afghanistan to really do it. we never built up the nonmilitary part of the mission sufficiently with security over a long period of time to deal with it culturally. this is a mission that, you know, when we went in, we should've gone in there targeting osama bin laden. we didn't. that took us a long time. we caught homid karzai in there. and then we didn't follow up. instead we really took our eye off the ball and went into iraq. and during that period, the taliban came back. pakistan views us as their strategic area until we deal effectively with the
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india/pakistani conflict and their claims on most of afghanistan, we weren't going to be successful in a counterinsurgency. the taliban is externally supported. they've got a lot of courageous people in there and a lot of scared frightened people who have been bullied into being in there. so, this has been a really tough mission. i know why friends and colleagues in the military, they don't want to leave. they shed their blood. they put their lives on the line here. they sacrificed their families. and they want to stay and they want to finish the mission. but from the perspective of the president of the united states, he says it's time to leave. i agree with him. we're going to have to let this work its way out. we're going to give the support, but we can't stay forever in a country when there are strong local external forces working against the very government that we put in place.
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>> as you know, general clark, intelligence reports have indicated it will likely be only a matter of time before the taliban actually takes control of afghanistan. even though the afghan army 300,000 troops trained by the u.s. nato forces, the u.s. and nato have spent billions and billions of dollars trying to get them ready for this battle. why are they simply, from your perspective, general clark, incapable of getting the job done 300,000 afghan troops? >> it's the connection between the political, the cultural, the social, and men and women in uniform. and at the top, the afghan government has never been fully representative or supportive of the afghan people. it's been the target of manipulation, it's been corrupted. we've tried to support it, but we're not part of that culture. and we couldn't prevent the corruption of that government. and so it's always been a
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controversial government. and we've done everything humanly possible, i believe, to try to make this work. now, if you compare this work with vietnam. first of all, in vietnam, we did have an effective counterinsurgency program called the phoenix program. and it involved going in at night and forcing the viet cong to either surrender or they died on the spot. some people called it an assassination program. the cia was taken to task for it and heavily criticized afterwards. and probably we said we'd never do something like that again. so, we're probably not really doing that in afghanistan, although we do, do special operations there at night and try to eliminate some people. but nothing like the scale of the phoenix program. so, we didn't really have the right tool in place militarily. we didn't have the right social and political backing. >> yeah. it's 20 years, that's a long
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time, as you correctly point out, let's see what happens, a lot of fear it's going to be bad. all right, general clark, thank you as usual for joining us. once again, we're awaiting a news conference on the deadly surfside, florida, condo collapse. we'll bring you live coverage. that's coming up in the next few moments. also ahead we're getting some new details on the house minority leader kevin mccarthy and his fellow republicans. what they're planning to do to cope with the new select committee investigation on the january 6th insurrection. plus, new questions about the case prosecutors are building against the trump organization. it didn't get us to the moon. it doesn't ring the bell on wall street. or disrupt the status quo. t-mobile for business uses unconventional thinking to help you realize new possibilities on america's largest, fastest, and most reliable 5g network. plus customer experience that finds solutions in the moment. and first-class benefits, like 5g with every plan. network, support and value-- without any tradeoffs. that's t-mobile for business.
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capitol hill are preparing their strategy for dealing with a new select committee investigation of the january 6th insurrection. let's go to our chief congressional correspondent manu raju. >> kevin mccarthy has still not said if he will name his five picks to serve on that select committee. democrats yesterday, the speaker named eight of her choices. but mccarthy has still not said. but there is a strategy that is forming. the strategy to shift focus away from donald trump, his role in inciting the january 6th insurrection, and look at the speaker of the house, nancy pelosi, her response to it, and in their view not an adequate response in protecting -- >> is about to speak. >> good evening, everyone. today we've had the good fortune to have good weather. and so we've continued our search and rescue operations unimpaired by the weather, and we've continued in the areas of
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the collapse, which we can access. we're using all the technology that we've used that is available to search in the area of concern. and over the course of today's search, we did recover two additional victims. we now have 22 confirmed deaths. 188 people accounted for and 126 unaccounted for. our detectives are continually editing this list as we verify every single report that we have received regarding a potentially missing person. and, as a result, these numbers will continue to change as we've told you so often. our engineers and the fire rescue team are conducting ongoing testing and evaluation of the site as we work to expand the search area as soon as it is deemed safe to do so by the engineers. this afternoon, i signed an
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emergency order authorizing the demolition of the building in the interest of public health and safety. as soon as the engineers sign off on the next steps to begin the demolition process. so, it's important to note that we're still evaluating all possible impacts and determining the best time line to actually begin the demolition. signing the order now is important so that it can help us move quickly as soon as we decided the best methodology to demolish and the specific start date. our top priority remains search and rescue. i want to be very clear about that. and we will take no option that will jeopardize our ability to continue the search and rescue mission. i want to acknowledge that this was not a decision we made lightly, and i know especially how difficult this is for the families who escaped the building and who have lost their
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homes and their belongings. the building poses a threat to public health and safety and bringing it down as quickly as possible is critical to protect our community. so we will continue to host the twice-daily briefings with the families, moving today and tomorrow's afternoon briefing a little earlier in the day in observance of the sabbath. and as the sabbath begins, we join the families who are grieving and waiting in prayer and reflection. and we know that your prayers and wishes and hopes are with us from all around the world in this hour of tragedy. and we thank you. we thank everyone who is with us in spirit. we're also continuing to monitor what is now hurricane elsa. and we are urging our community to take action to prepare now. please don't delay. head to our website
2:45 pm to learn more about what you can do before, during, and after a storm and download our ready mdc app. i'm incredibly proud of the work that our team has done here on the ground. so many of our county departments are at the forefront contributing. of course, our miami-dade fire, the heroes and sheroes on the mound. our miami-dade police department keeping us safe and keeping everything moving. our office of emergency management monitoring all of these operations. our department of transportation and public works, our department of water and sewer and many others, they are all here on site working together. miami-dade county to get this job done. we're not just running an emergency response, as you can see. but we're also preparing our whole community for a possible storm at the same time. i also want to thank our
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chairman of the commission pepe diaz for his ongoing collaboration on storm preparation and particularly his work with the south florida water management district to prepare. we are truly experiencing an unprecedented disaster and the extraordinary men and women of miami-dade and our federal and state partners continue their mission and the search and rescue no matter what is thrown our way. [ speaking foreign language ] >> we're going to break away from the news conference for a few moments. but there is major news that the mayor daniella levine cava of miami-dade county just released. first of all, sadly, the death toll has gone up 22 confirmed dead right now. 126 people are still unaccounted for, 126 people unaccounted for. but she did reveal, this is news for the first time, that she has just signed an emergency order
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that will result in the demolition of the remaining part of that condominium building. they will demolish it. they are now working on a time line, she says it's extremely dangerous for the remaining part of that building to remain intact. it could collapse, it could potentially endanger some of the men and women who are part of that search and rescue, and eventually recovery operation. brian todd, you're right near there. you can see the remaining tower right behind you. she says she signed this executive order, emergency order, i should say, to demolish it. and it's going to happen soon. >> that's right, wolf. and they've got to make a plan to do it. i'm going to show you what she's talking about here. our photojournalist is going to go over my shoulder, show you the damage, show you the real area of concern where there is so much debris and heavy concrete slabs just hanging out of what's left of that building. this is really what they're worried about. and this is why this building is
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it going to be demolished. you see that large column, they've been talking about that. the question is it's hanging there. what is it hanging on? the structural engineer we talked to earlier today said we don't know if that's hanging on one bar, two bars of metal, four bars of metal. if it's hanging on four or more bars of metal, maybe it's stable, maybe it's not. there's a large concrete slab right above that column. look at that concrete slab above that column that seems to be hanging there. all of that just looks incredibly dangerous. you see the rescuers to the left of it. they're on top of this rubble. and they have been working feverishly all day. i count 30 of them on there right now. but there are also rescuers between that group and this rubble digging in a trench, going over this area. they could covebly be in danger. look at the nature of that debris. this is why the mayor says this building has got to come down,
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it poses a danger to the safety of the rescuers and to the safety of the general area. we're showing you why they believe that. it is a very dramatic scene. and of course, you mentioned, wolf, the hurricane which could be a tropical storm when it gets here, it may still be a hurricane when it gets here. the structural engineer we talked to says they are worried about that because it all depends on the wind speed, what direction that wind hits this thing. he says it's definitely going to blow some debris off that building, even if it's like a 40-mile-an-hour wind, it's going to blow some stuff off that building. incredibly treacherous. but this engineer, and i think just like the mayor alluded to, said this can't happen really any time soon. the demolition, he says it definitely cannot happen before the storm gets here. that's impossible. he said they have to haul in a lot of heavy equipment to do that, he said this heavy equipment is not even close to being here yet. when that demolition occurs, wolf, we really don't know. it could take several
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>> yeah. it says that that building, in the words of the mayor, poses a threat on top of everything else. hurricane elsa off the coast and could get closer and closer. she says please don't delay. get ready and prepare now, complicating matters. rick is a structural engineer. let me get your reaction, rick, to what we just heard from the mayor. the mayor saying that she just signed an emergency order to demolish the remaining part of that condominium building. >> sure. and obviously there is an emotional value to this site. beyond that, the florida building code requires there are certain thresholds. once you reach a threshold on damage and replacement in the building, even if there was contemplation of repairing the building, the system at the time 40 years ago, the wind loads are significantly different than they are today. the structure would have to be enhanced, reinforced, rebuilt.
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windows and doors are requiring higher wind bloatings. as well as that mechanical electrical systems, all those systems have to be brought to current code. it is somewhat impractical, especially with extended damages there to anticipate they will replace that. >> how do they go ahead and demolish that town? >> actually, that's another interesting comment. one thing she mentioned was the engineers on the site. they were concerned about the safety of the workers. that is a big deal. concrete is a preferred system in south florida. but it does rely heavily upon the columns and slabs being connected. obviously the building has been compromised. those connections are not working the way they should. and as a result, a lot of the remaining structure there could move, and because it's unstable, it causes a risk to the workers that are there. one of the issues that they will have to do is, another impact of this is they are storing
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materials and components at a warehouse they can analyze and assess for their determination as to the cause. so while some of the areas may be removed, it is anticipated they will sort of remove it. i don't want to say in a surgical manner, but in a manner they can put them in the warehouse and be able to analyze them. but it will take some time to do that. there are a lot of apartments there, a lot of people's possessions are still on site. i'm sure they will not let people go back in. it is too dangerous. but will they remove personal matters before they go ahead and destroy that building? >> i suspect not. i actually had other projects that were impacted severely by hurricane. and once the buildings are open, they are open to the environment, it's been raining, mold, mildew, things like that get in there. they're naturally occurring because it's open. the odds of them being able to salvage much i suspect is not going to happen. the other issue is they will use
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cranes and heavy equipment to remove the columns, the concrete slabs, and that's a procedure that will damage the balance of the material there. i suspect there is not going to be a lot they will salvage. >> doug, when they destroy that building and the mayor, once again, she says she just signed an emergency order for the demolition to demolish the remaining parts of that building, once they do, does the concrete, the entire building simply go straight down? because when i was down there, a lot of the folks said make sure they push it out towards collins avenue as opposed to the beach where the earlier destruction occurred. it would make search and recovery, search and rescue obviously is going to be difficult. but even recovery will be extremely difficult if all that materials falls on top what has already been destroyed. yeah, rick. if you want to answer that question. >> yeah. i suspect at some point they
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will reach the level where the materials would be removed in more of a bulk fashion. i'm satisfied the engineers will develop a plan and strategically locate the materials and determine the pickup sticks, if you will, that will be able to take pieces out, salvage them. and they will have a storage area or equipment they can off load. they will lay out a plan. maybe that's already being done in anticipation of removing it in bulk. >> based on the expertise she's getting from the engineers on the scene, this is wise to go ahead and bring that building down? >> absolutely. first of all, based upon the level of damage, that's extensive. and, two, while it may be a good concept to try to repair, it is not feasible to do so. >> the mayor will be joining us live momentarily, by the way. we will get more information by her. everybody standby. we will recap what we just learned. major breaking news by
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authorities down in surf side, florida. the order has been given to go ahead and demolish the rest of that building. much more of our special coverage coming up. we'll be right back.
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happening now, breaking news. the miami-dade mayor announces she's ordering the rest of the condo collapse demolished. standing by to join us live this hour. also, as the dangerous delta covid variant spreads across the united states, travel this holiday weekend is expected to reach levels not seen since
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before the pandemic, and that has some officials sounding the alarm. and republicans are preparing for potential pitfalls as the january 6th house selection committee gets underway. we're talk about it with the committee chairman. he's standing by live. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> all right. we got breaking news coming out of florida. brian todd is on the scene for us. brian, important new developments just revealed in that news conference that a lot of us were surprised to hear from the mayor. >> that's right, wolf. she has signed an order for the demolition as soon as engineers and others in charge of this can draw up the plans and get it all underway. this could take some time. what i found


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