A newly-erected pedestrian bridge at the Florida International University campus in Miami collapsed over a highway Thursday, creating what authorities are describing as a “mass casualty situation.”
Hours later, emergency response teams were still in “search and rescue mode” working to “locate viable patients” under the bridge.
Speaking at a news conference, Miami-Dade County officials said that eight people had been taken to hospital so far, and that at least eight vehicles were trapped, though there may be more.
Officials said they didn’t know how many people could be trapped under the bridge, declined to say whether anyone was dead. Earlier, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told a local news station that between six to ten people were dead.
Florida Highway patrol said just before 3 p.m. that five to six cars were crushed under the 174-foot section of the collapsed “UniversityCity” bridge, which was built to create a safer pedestrian route between the campus and the city of Miami at a price tag of more than $14 million. The main span of the bridge weighs 950 tons.
As emergency response teams scrambled to pull the injured from their crushed vehicles, BDI Test, the Colorado-based company that provided structural monitoring to the bridge, deleted a tweet posted Monday saying they were “thrilled to have provided structural monitoring during a spectacular bridge move.”
The bridge was installed on Saturday, the Miami Herald reports. At the time, the school declared it a victory.
"FIU is about building bridges and student safety," FIU president Mark Rosenberg said on Saturday. "This project accomplishes our mission beautifully. We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live.”
In press materials, the school emphasized the installation was planned around speed."This technique reduced potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and prevented traffic tie-ups in the area," the university wrote in a release obtained by the Miami New Times.
Cover image via Florida WSVN 7