(Credit:Gabriela Collazo)

At Least 4 Dead, Multiple People Injured When Pedestrian Bridge Collapses at Florida International University in Miami

March 15, 2018 - 2:40 pm
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MIAMI (1010 WINS/AP) -- At least four people were confirmed dead and many others were injured when a newly-installed pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University in Miami on Thursday.

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Officials said eight vehicles were trapped beneath the bridge when it came down around 1:30 p.m. Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said Thursday evening that at least four people had been confirmed dead as of 8:20 p.m.

Nine others were taken to an area hospital.

A search and rescue effort was set to continue until crews were sure there were no more survivors -- at which point the effort would turn into a recovery mission.

“Our hearts go out to anybody who has been impacted by this. Being a dad and a grandfather, you just hope that this would never happen to anybody in your family, or any family that you know – in my case, any family in this state,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a news conference.

Officials at Kendall Regional Medical Center said two patients in their care were in extremely critical condition, while the conditions for eight others were stable. The patients’ ages ranged from 20 to 50.

Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said search dogs are working the scene. Up to four cranes were also set up.

The governor said an investigation would be launched, and, “We will hold anybody accountable if anybody’s done anything wrong.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) also addressed reporters Thursday night.

"There will be an exhaustive review that will give details on engineering and scientific level as to what the errors were and what led to this catastrophic collapse," Rubio said, adding that such efforts will not be of any comfort for those who lost loved ones, but would be geared toward preventing another such accident from ever happening again.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he was monitoring the “heartbreaking” collapse.

The 950-ton section of bridge was installed Saturday at Florida International University in the Miami area. The pedestrian bridge was set up to connect the FIU campus to the nearby comumunity of Sweetwater, and had not yet opened to foot traffic.

The university made an announcement with fanfare Saturday when the main section of the modularly constructed bridge had been swung into place. The university said the "accelerated bridge construction'' method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption. 

FIU President Mark Rosenberg contrasted the hope the community felt when the bridge was completed on Saturday compared with the tragedy that happened on Thursday.

“This bridge, five days ago, we were celebrating that it was in the process of being erected. This bridge was about collaboration. It was about hope. It was about opportunity. It was about determination. This bridge was about strength and unity and about being good neighbors with the city of Sweetwater. This bridge was about goodness, not sadness,” Rosenberg said. “Now we’re feeling immense sadness – uncontrollable sadness.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is also sending a team to investigate the collapse.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Thursday evening that a team from his organization is set to arrive in Miami around 10:30 p.m. and proceed straight to the site.

The team of 15 specialists will probe a number of subject areas, including civil engineering, material science, and survival factors, Sumwalt said.

The NTSB will also offer transportation disaster assistance, and will be on hand to assist the families of those affected, Sumwalt said.

Officials urged people to stay out of the area.

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