Monday 10 December 2018

Ten feared dead after bridge 'built in six hours' collapses

Vehicles are seen trapped under the collapsed pedestrian bridge. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty
Vehicles are seen trapped under the collapsed pedestrian bridge. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty

Zachary Fagenson

Between six and 10 people are feared dead after a newly erected pedestrian bridge spanning several lanes of traffic collapsed at Florida International University yesterday.

US Senator Bill Nelson of Florida gave the figure to local TV station CBS Miami after emergency services had declined to speculate on the number of deaths.

Eight vehicles were trapped in the wreckage of the 950-ton bridge and eight people were transported to hospitals, officials told a news conference.

Emergency personnel with sniffer dogs searched for signs of life amid the wreckage of concrete and twisted metal that fell from the collapsing structure and crushed vehicles on one of the busiest roads in South Florida.

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

Complicating the rescue effort was the uncertainty about the integrity of the bridge, parts of which remained off the ground, much of it inclined.

Emergency crews search for survivors at the scene of the collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami
Emergency crews search for survivors at the scene of the collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami

The bridge connected the university with the city of Sweetwater and was installed on Saturday in six hours over the eight-lane highway, according to a story that was posted on the university's website.

It was 53 metres long and weighed 950 tons.

The bridge was intended to provide a walkway over southwest Eighth Street, one of the busiest roads in South Florida.

An 18-year-old female student from San Diego was killed while trying to cross the street last August, according to local media reports.

Television footage showed firefighters walking across the flattened wreckage and medical technicians treating injured people. Emergency personnel appeared to be trying to work their way through a hole in the top of the bridge to access trapped survivors.

President Donald Trump said he was monitoring the "heartbreaking bridge collapse".

Mr Trump called the bridge collapse "so tragic" and praised the bravery of first responders who "rushed in to save lives. Thank you for your courage," he tweeted.

Irish Independent

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