At Least 4 Dead After Pedestrian Bridge Collapses at Florida International University

At least four people were killed after a newly-installed pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University in the Miami area on Thursday, trapping multiple cars underneath, officials said.

There were at least nine people taken to hospitals as more than 100 firefighters scoured the scene of the bridge collapse for any “viable victims,” a Miami-Dade County fire and rescue official said during a press conference Thursday. Eight vehicles were were trapped under the bridge when it collapsed.

Here’s what we know about the FIU bridge collapse:

What happened?

The new 950-ton bridge to Sweetwater, which was installed at FIU on Saturday, collapsed Thursday afternoon onto Southwest Eighth Street — killing at least four people and injured at least 9, according to the Associated Press.

Two people are in critical condition and the other eight victims transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center were being treated for various injuries including “bruises and abrasions to broken bones,” Dr. Mark McKenney said Thursday at the press conference, according to the AP.

Video posted on social media showed the collapsed bridge with vehicles stuck underneath it.

In a statement, FIU officials said they were involved in ongoing rescue efforts. “We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge,” a statement said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that he was on the way to FIU to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials. In an earlier tweet, Scott said he had spoked to Miami Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the bridge collapse and that he will continue to communicate with authorities.

What caused the bridge to collapse?

It was not immediately clear what caused the deadly bridge collapse.

The Miami Herald reports that the 174-foot-long bridge was installed with the intention of giving pedestrian access from FIU’s campus to its newer dorms and off-campus housing.

According to the Herald, the bridge was not open to the public yet and was scheduled to be finished in 2019. The Associated Press reports that the support towers of the $14.2 million bridge were built at each end while the main part of the span was built by the side of the road before it was positioned over the seven-lane highway.

Munilla Construction, one of the companies that worked on the bridge, called the accident a “catastrophic collapse” and promised to conduct “a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong.”

“MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist,” the company said in a tweet.

How did officials respond?

President Donald Trump said Thursday evening he was monitoring the “heartbreaking” situation unfolding in Florida.

Florida’s lawmakers also expressed sympathy for the victims of the collapse and called for an investigation into what led to the incident.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, whose district touches the area affected by the bridge collapse, said he also spoke with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao about the upcoming investigation.

“I am shocked and horrified by the FIU Pedestrian Bridge collapse. I am praying for the victims and families of this tragedy,” he said in his statement.

As first responders continued to search for victims on Thursday evening, officials vowed to investigate the situation. Scott clarified that the bridge was a FIU project, not a Florida Department of Transportation project, and that investigations would take place on the local, state and federal levels.

“There will clearly be investigations to find out exactly what happened and why this happened,” he said during a news conference Thursday evening. “We will hold anybody accountable if anybody has done anything wrong.”

Before its collapse, the bridge had been a source of pride for local officials and the university. FIU President Mark Rosenberg reflected on the project and said he hoped the bridge could still be a way to “galvanize the community” in hope.

“I want you all to know that this bridge, five days ago we were celebrating, that it was in the process of being erected. This bridge was about collaboration, was about hope, was about opportunity, was about determination,” Rosenberg said at the news conference. “This bridge was about strength and unity. About being good neighbors with the city of Sweetwater.”

In fact, the bridge project was meant to address concerns about pedestrians unsafely crossing the busy highway.

“This bridge was going to provide a safe transportation for pedestrians to cross between the university and the City of Sweetwater,” said Orlando Lopez, mayor of Sweetwater.

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