950-ton Instant Bridge Collapses at FIU, 6-10 People Crushed to Death

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950-ton instant bridge collapses at FIU after it was installed in just six hours on Saturday; reports of 6-10 dead and at least 10 more injured.

Up to 10 people have been killed when a newly installed pedestrian bridge spanning several lanes of traffic collapsed at Florida International University on Thursday.

Cars were waiting for the lights to change when the 950-ton ‘instant bridge’, which was installed in just six hours on Saturday, crumbled and fell on the waiting traffic on the busy, seven lane 8th Street, which runs from downtown Miami all the way to the Everglades.

950-ton instant bridge collapses at FIU

US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told local TV station CBS Miami that between six to 10 people died. Another ten have been rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center, at least two in ‘extremely critical’ condition. One of those who arrived in critical condition was suffering a cardiac arrest but was revived by doctors, while the other has a serious brain injury.

The remaining eight were stable, with injuries such as ‘bruises and abrasions to broken bones.’

The 174-foot ‘instant bridge’ hailed as a feat of engineering and safety, was installed Saturday morning but was not due to open to the public until 2019.

‘We’re working our way into the pile trying to create holes that we can actually physically see,’ Miami-Dade Fire Department Division Chief Paul Estopian told reporters.

The Florida Highway Patrol has said several people were killed but did not release a figure on fatalities. Rescue teams are working to free eight vehicles were trapped in the bridge wreckage, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in an interview with CBS Miami.

Television images captured from helicopter show numerous cars crushed by the weight of the bridge.

Suzy Bermudez told ABC News she’s been in the line of traffic when she saw the cars in front of her ‘totally smashed, almost to the ground’ by the falling debris.

‘It fell on the cars that were waiting for the light to change,’ she said.  ‘All of a sudden, I saw it collapse. It was in slow motion.

‘I couldn’t process it until I actually jumped out of my car,’ Bermudez continued, adding she saw just one survivor, who escaped after the bridge smashed just the back of his car.

At one point, police had requested television helicopters to leave the area so rescuers could hear for any sounds of people crying for help from beneath the collapsed structure, the Miami TV station said.

White House Responds Quickly

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today, in a media briefing, that: ‘Our brave first responders are working feverishly to save lives. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and offer whatever support is needed to the local officials and community.’

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that he was traveling to Florida International University ‘to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials.’

‘I have spoken with Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU. I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day,’ he added.

The bridge was designed by FIGG and built by Munilla Construction – two companies who have been accused in years past of shoddy building practices.

Students at FIU had demanded for months that the bridge be built because of the danger in crossing the busy, seven-lane Tamiami Trail highway.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that he was traveling to Florida International University ‘to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials.’

‘I have spoken with Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU. I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day,’ he added.

Images also show a number of emergency rescue workers crawling along the rubble in an attempt to spot survivors.

It was built to provide pedestrian access from FIU’s main campus to an area that houses a number of student residences.

Two workers were replacing something on the side of the bridge when it collapsed, according to CBS Miami.

The 950-ton span, which was built over Tamiami Trail at a cost of $14million, was not yet open to pedestrians. It was scheduled to open sometime early next year.

Tamiami Trail is considered a busy roadway, and the bridge was built in order to accommodate students who were fearful of crossing the highway.

Last summer, an FIU student was killed after he was hit by a car while crossing the highway, according to the Miami Herald.

The tragedy amplified student demands for the bridge’s prompt completion.

Miami-Dade County Emergency Management confirmed the collapse and urged the public to avoid the area near SW 8th Street and 109th Avenue.

 

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