Florida bridge collapse: Hope fades for more survivors

Emergency personnel respond to a collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University
Roberto Koltun Miami Herald Emergency personnel respond to a collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University
Author

17 March, 2018

Authorities also said one victim is confirmed to be an FIU student.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted late Thursday that the cables that suspend the bridge had loosened and the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened.

"You can't really compare them", said the spokeswoman, Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, adding that all contractors are evaluated on an ongoing basis by district staff.

Authorities say a 950-ton pedestrian bridge that collapsed onto a six-lane highway killing at least six people had undergone a "stress test" hours before and the cables were being tightened when it pancaked onto traffic below.

Witnesses described a confusing and horrifying scene.

Police detective Juan Carlos Llera said when the bridge came down, it "sounded like an explosion". "It sounded like the world was ending, and when you look back, all you see is the bridge on the floor. It was very bad", he told CNN affiliate WSVN.

She said she saw one woman get out of a vehicle that was "just nicked" and rescue personnel performing life-saving CPR on another person in the street. She told CNN affiliate WINK that she initially thought, "Why are they taking the bridge down?"

He said he saw three construction workers who had been injured.

Workers will painstakingly break down the giant chunks of fallen concrete so they can be removed safely. "They fell several feet obviously". "We have been in business for more than 35 years, and safety has always been our number one priority. I just don't know how many", Alejandro Camacho, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol said in a telephone interview.

Sky News published a video that showed crushed cars beneath the bridge.

Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez did not release the identity but said he or she did attend the university.

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At least 10 people were taken to hospitals; two were in critical condition, officials and local news media reported. It linked the community of Sweetwater with the campus of Florida International University.

The bridge was installed on Saturday and scheduled to open to pedestrians and bicyclists in 2019.

The bridge had been created to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

The bridge was still under construction.

The $14.2 million project was supposed to take advantage of a faster, cheaper and safer method of bridge-building promoted by the university.

But the collapse is not the first incident involving either company.

Authorities announced early Friday morning they no longer believe they will find anyone alive in the rubble of the collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University.

Amjad Aref, a professor at University of Buffalo's Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, said a suspended bridge is typically built gradually, with the center tower or towers erected early.

"MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist", the company said in a statement on its website Thursday. It was pre-fabricated using new construction and design technology, and transported to the construction site for installation.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt led a team of investigators Thursday to determine what went wrong and what could prevent similar collapses in the future.


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