By Matt Petrillo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The cause of the collapse of a 12-story building near Miami Beach remains a mystery. Investigators will be trying to figure out exactly what happened.

CBS3’s Matt Petrillo spoke to a Drexel University structural engineering professor who walked him through the process of how those on the ground investigate the cause of the collapse.

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“My heart goes out to families that lost loved ones in this,” Dr. Abi Aghayere of Drexel University said.

Dr. Aghayere has been reviewing video of the collapse and says investigators will figure out what happened by laying out possible causes and then determining what did not happen.

“That’s what I started doing. I said, ‘what could have caused the failure?’ Just looking at the way it collapsed,” Dr. Aghayere said.

He points out the building is an oceanfront structure – one that has withstood hurricanes for 40 years and certain parts may have corroded.

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“If you do have that corrosion and it’s not detected, then the structure could be badly deteriorated without the owners knowing,” Dr. Aghayere said.

When asked if a support column might have failed, Dr. Aghayere said, “That’s the possibility here because of the way the building went down. Either the support column sank because the foundation failed or the support column failed by itself.”

He adds any buildings that are oceanfront properties and exposed to the elements need to be routinely inspected.

Reports show the Champlain Towers South Condominium building was in the process of a re-inspection.

“The question will be, if the support column failed, how did it carry that load for almost 40 years? That will be a question I ask myself before ruling it in or ruling it out,” Dr. Aghayere said.

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Trying to figure out what happened is painstaking work and officials say it could be months before they know what led to the collapse.