A day after a 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed in Miami, killing at least six people and injuring another 10, rescue workers are still trying to free bodies and cars from the rubble, as investigators try to understand how the five-day-old structure failed.
Police said they were not yet identifying the victims. They continued to direct traffic around the bridge, which was constructed to provide pedestrians a safe thoroughfare between Florida International University and a cluster of housing in Sweetwater, Florida.
— MDFR (@MiamiDadeFire) March 15, 2018
Here’s what we know so far.
The bridge collapsed around 2 p.m. ET Thursday over an eight-lane road near the university.
Police initially said four people were found dead and at least 10 others were injured. The death toll was increased to six Friday morning.
FIU’s bridge just collapsed! pic.twitter.com/Jlhr0fYSXv
— JMClerger. (@JewilMC) March 15, 2018
The bridge was built to help people safely travel over the road that divided the campus and a cluster of off-campus housing, an infrastructure solution sought by students and faculty at the university, the Miami Herald reported. Alexis Dale, an 18-year-old FIU student, was killed last year while crossing the long intersection, the newspaper noted.
The $14.2 million project was slated to open in 2019. It was not open to the public at the time of its collapse.
— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) March 15, 2018
“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge,” the university said in a statement. “We are working with the appropriate agencies to assist in rescue efforts,” it added later in the day.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are assisting authorities with the ongoing investigation.
Who are the victims?
The death toll rose to six people Friday morning. Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez told reporters that police expect that number to possibly increase once the 950-ton structure is lifted. Ten people were transported to local hospitals with injuries.
The main priority, Perez said Friday, was to get to the bodies police believe are trapped under collapsed concrete. At least four families have arrived at a reunification center set up at the university, seeking answers about their missing love ones, the Herald reported.
Police confirmed that one of the victims was an FIU student. No others details about the victims were given.
Who built the bridge?
The 175-foot-long bridge was built several days ago, over the course of one morning. It was designed by two firms: Munilla Construction Management and FIGG Bridge Group.
“Both companies have been involved in bridge collapses before,” The Associated press notes. FIGG Bridge Group, an engineering company, was selected to build a replacement bridge in Minnesota after the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed about 11 years ago. The 2007 collapse killed 13 people and injured 145 others in Minneapolis.
Authorities said the bridge was undergoing a “stress test” when it failed.
After visiting the site of the collapse, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the cables that suspended the bridged had loosened and that an engineering firm had been tightening them when it collapsed.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 16, 2018
It’s not immediately clear how that test factored into the bridge’s eventual collapse.
The university had touted the bridge as a “first-of-its-kind” structure.
First-of-its-kind pedestrian bridge “swings” into place. “FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” -President Mark B. Rosenberg. https://t.co/x8gPM9A4DG #worldsahead pic.twitter.com/mPEMeh2zmw
— FIU (@FIU) March 10, 2018
“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” university president Mark B. Rosenberg is quoted as saying on the school’s official Twitter account.
The PBS NewsHour will update this story as it develops.