6 Confirmed Dead in Bridge Collapse at Florida International University

Playing First Responders Rush to Bridge Collapse Near Florida International University

Six people are confirmed dead following the collapse of a newly installed pedestrian bridge on the Florida International University campus, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

“What we can confirm is at this point at least we can confirm six fatalities,” Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told reporters early Friday.

Five people died at the scene while a sixth was declared dead at a hospital.

A Miami-Dade Fire Department official said eight cars were trapped under the bridge, and another eight victims were transported to the hospital.

About 100 rescuers are working to find any additional victims in the rubble of the fallen span.

But authorities were quick to say they don't really know how many people are under the bridge. 

“We do know that there are eight vehicles that they can see that are under there,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez, CBS Miami reported. “In reality, nobody can tell you if it was a vehicle that only had a driver or had a driver and four passengers. So, when you’re asking about numbers, we really don’t know.”

The 950-ton bridge, which extends across 8th Street between the Miami university's main campus and off-campus housing, collapsed Thursday afternoon.

The $11.4 million project was meant to connect the school to the city of Sweetwater. It is part of a $124 million expansion of the campus.

“I just heard a really loud crash. I ran to my balcony and then I saw that it was down,” said witness Chelsea Morsey who lives nearby, the station reported. “It was complete chaos. There was everybody running around and I saw just a couple of cars like sticking out.”

Munilla Construction Management, the firm tasked with building the bridge, extended "thoughts and prayers" to victims.

 

"We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge," the university said in a statement. "At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information. We are working closely with authorities and first responders on the scene. We will share updates as we have them."

The bridge was designed to give students a safe route across a busy roadway. It was touted as an innovative "instant" bridge because of how quickly it could be constructed, the Miami Herald reported. It could take days or more to determine why the structure failed, authorities said. 

It was not scheduled to open to foot traffic until 2019.

The university, in a press release had previously praised the span, saying it would be assembled using a pre-built process called Accelerated Bridge Construction.  

"This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions. The main span of the FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge was installed in a few hours with limited disruption to traffic over this weekend," the statement said.

The university had posted this architect's rendering of what the expanse would look like. 

Residents were warned to stay clear of the campus. 

 

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