UPDATED 9:59 p.m. ET: Hours after a pedestrian bridge collapsed on the Florida International University campus, the Miami-Dade County Fire Department confirmed that four people were found dead in the rubble.
Fire Chief Dave Downey shared the tragic news during a briefing Thursday night, stating that the bodies were discovered at the scene by first-responders. According to the Associated Press, the chief also confirmed nine other victims were removed from the rubble "early on" and were transported to the hospital to receive medical treatment. Downey did not provide any information on the victims' conditions.
Read the original story below.
A pedestrian bridge at Florida International University covering a major highway running through downtown Miami collapsed on Thursday afternoon, trapping people in cars underneath. Police on the scene confirmed there are “multiple deaths,” but numbers have not been confirmed yet because no one has been able to get under the bridge to investigate, according to Miami Herald journalist Monique O. Madan. Florida Highway Patrol told CNN that at least five or six cars were crushed underneath the bridge.
Construction workers are telling me it’s an “engineering failure.” They say casualties haven’t been confirmed because nobody has been able to get beneath the bridge to find out. @MiamiHerald pic.twitter.com/ywMRhjAUQa— Monique O. Madan (@MoniqueOMadan) March 15, 2018
THE FIU BRIDGE COLLAPSED OH MY GOD pic.twitter.com/JO7jfx5AoN— Gabriela Collazo (@GabrielaRose12) March 15, 2018
Reporters on the scene claim police were instructing journalists to move away from the bridge “in case the rest falls down.”
The bridge was under construction and not scheduled to open until early 2019. Construction workers told Madan that the collapse was due to "engineering failure." That said, CNN reports authorities have not yet determined the official cause of the bridge collapse.
The bridge was being constructed by Munilla Construction Management, who aimed to make "an iconic cable-stayed pedestrian bridge, connecting the city of Sweetwater with the northern entrance of Florida International University (FIU) over 8th Street." A video posted to YouTube in 2015 by the construction company showed what the completed bridge would have looked like. The project cost $9.3 million dollars and the bridge was just installed this weekend.
In a statement released on March 10, FIU shared that the bridge had been "lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees across an eight-lane thoroughfare, and lowered into its permanent position." The bridge was built with Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) methods, which "reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions." The university also said the bridge was the largest pedestrian bridge moved via Self-Propelled Modular Transportation in U.S. history, as well as the first to be "constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete".
"FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully," FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said. "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."
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that he will go to Florida International University this evening "to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials on the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near campus."
Isabella Carrasco witnessed the collapse and had just driven under the bridge. She said she saw cars "completely crushed under" the bridge and there was "debris everywhere."
"Someone on the side of the road had asked a police officer if they had heard any responses from the people inside the car and she shook her head and said, 'no,'" Carrasco added.
This story is developing and will be updated with more information.