But the operation was restarted about 15 hours later when it was deemed safe, though with a new set of precautions in place, Cominsky told reporters Thursday evening.
Under the new search plan, teams would confine their work for now to just three of nine grids demarcated in the ruins, Cominsky said.
At some point, the remaining part of the building will be demolished, but Levine Cava said on Friday that it would “take some time” before that occurs.
Authorities were eager to make as much progress as possible before the expected arrival of Elsa, which strengthened into the first hurricane of the 2021 season on Friday as it threatened the Caribbean.
The storm could be near South Florida by Monday or Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Molleda told reporters, with tropical storm-force winds arriving as early as Sunday. But he warned that Elsa's forecasted path remains uncertain.
The renewed search effort began shortly after a visit to the scene on Thursday by US President Joe Biden, who spent about three hours consoling families of the dead and missing.
Investigators have not determined what caused the 40-year-old condo complex to crumble into a heap in one of the deadliest building collapses in US history.
But a 2018 engineering report prepared by an engineering firm ahead of a building safety-recertification process found structural deficiencies in the condo complex that are now the focus of various inquiries, including a grand jury examination.
USA Today, citing a document the newspaper obtained from a family member of a missing victim, reported late on Thursday that a 2020 document from the same firm noted “curious results” after testing the depth of the concrete slab below the pool. But the document did not specify what that meant, the newspaper reported.
As recently as April, the condo association president warned residents in a letter that major concrete damage identified by the engineer around the base of the building had grown “significantly worse.”
Several lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of survivors and victims against the association's board.
In a statement on Friday, the board — some of whose members remain missing — said it would appoint an “independent receiver ... to oversee the legal and claims process.”
The board added that it would continue working with investigators to understand the cause of the tragedy.