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Pedestrian bridge collapses in Florida killing multiple people

By Danielle Haynes
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Pedestrian bridge collapses in Florida killing multiple people
At least four people were killed Thursday when a 950-ton pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapsed. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

March 15 (UPI) -- A pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapsed Thursday, killing at least four people and injuring several others, emergency officials said.

The 950-ton span collapsed just before 1:30 p.m. as rows of cars were stopped at a red light beneath it. Miami-Dade Fire Chief Paul Estopinan told reporters at least four people have been found dead under the rubble. At least 10 people were transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center, two in critical condition and eight with minor injuries like broken bones and bruises.

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Estopinan said emergency workers know of at least eight vehicles trapped under the collapsed bridge.

"We could only see eight from the exterior of the bridge," he said. "We are creating holes just so that we can physically see [if there are others]."

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Law enforcement officials on the scene asked people to steer clear of the area as rescuers worked to reach victims. Juan Perez, director of Miami-Dade Police said the department had set up a family reunification center on the FIU campus for any family members who believe their loved ones may be victims of the collapse.

Workers installed the 950-ton bridge Saturday morning; it was being built to give students and other pedestrians access between FIU and the city of Sweetwater.

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The 174-foot-long and 30-foot-wide bridge was expected to open to pedestrians in early 2019. It was part of a $19.4 million project grant. The structure was elevated in one piece to its location this weekend, part of a new building method -- accelerated bridge construction -- that allows a bridge to be built with relatively little disruption to traffic.

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The companies building the bridge, MCM Construction and FIGG Engineering, offered thoughts and prayers after the collapse.

"The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life," MCM said in a statement. "MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way."

"We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before," FIGG said in an emailed statement. "Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved."

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