At least 6 dead in collapse of Miami college pedestrian bridge

Rescue personnel and a cadaver dog work at the scene of a pedestrian bridge collapse on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
By Sara Shayanian  |  March 16, 2018

(UPI) — At least six people died in the collapse of a pedestrian bridge on a college campus in Miami — and that number could climb, authorities said Friday.

The newly-built bridge collapsed suddenly Thursday afternoon at Miami’s Florida International University.

Video footage shows the bridge buckle suddenly and falling onto the road below. People are seen standing on the bridge when collapses.

Friday morning, Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said at a news conference that five people died at the scene and one at a Miami hospital. Ten were hospitalized with injuries.

Police have not identified any victims and said the death toll could rise as workers wade through the debris of the crumbled bridge.

“None of them have been removed as of yet,” Zabaleta said of the dead at the scene. “Only the six that have been confirmed are the only ones that we’ve been able to reach out to. However, they’re saying ‘at least’, because there is a possibility, the sad possibility, that under the concrete there may be additional vehicles.”

More than 100 rescue personnel worked through the night with the aid of special microphones and rescue dogs to look for additional survivors or injured. Officials are now calling it a recovery operation.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt III said a team of 15 specialists headed to Florida to investigate.

FIU’s campus will be open Friday, and officials said the school will offer counseling to students, faculty and staff.

“The bridge was about collaboration, about neighborliness, about doing the right thing,” FIU President Mark Rosenberg said in a statement. “Today, we’re sad. All we can do is promise a very thorough investigation — getting to the bottom of this.”

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he was “praying” for all those affected by the collapse.

“So tragic.” Trump wrote. “Many brave First Responders rushed in to save lives. Thank you for your courage.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio visited the scene Thursday.

“The cables that suspend the Miami bridge had loosened & the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened,” Rubio said. “They were being tightened when it collapsed today.”

The 174-foot-long bridge was built as part of a $19.4 million project grant and was elevated in one piece on Saturday by MCM Construction and FIGG Engineering.

MCM was reportedly sued earlier this month for alleged shoddy construction of a bridge built at Fort Lauderdale International Airport.