Officials expect to find more bodies under collapsed bridge

WEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) — As crews work to remove the debris from the collapsed pedestrian bridge near Florida International University, police said more bodies may be found under the 950-ton structure.

FIU student Alexa Duran was among the six dead, after the bridge collapsed near the campus, Thursday afternoon.

“The students have already rallied in supporting the family, which we’re very grateful for,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg, “and we’re gonna be providing a lot of support for the family, as well.”

Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said five bodies were located with the help of cameras, while one victim was removed and died at the hospital. Perez also said additional victims will likely be found as rubble is removed.

Ten victims, including several construction workers, were transported to area hospitals.

Search and rescue efforts went late into the night Thursday as crews held out hope, looking and listening for signs of life. However, officials have since suspended rescue efforts.

Recovery efforts are underway, Friday, as crews work to remove the at least eight cars trapped underneath the rubble. Heavy machinery could be seen cutting through the metal and concrete to get to the bottom.

“Our priority, which is the most critical thing, is to get to the victims — get to the remains of the people that are underneath that bridge so that we can take them to the proper place so that their families can have the appropriate burial,” Perez said.

Officials are warning the recovery process will be slow. As a result, Southwest Eighth Street, one of the busiest streets in the county has been shut down indefinitely between 107th Avenue and 118th Avenue.

“The investigation is vital because we want to ensure that this type of accident doesn’t happen again locally or anywhere in this country,” said Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp.

The pedestrian bridge which was not yet opened to the public, collapsed over traffic following a “stress test.” According to Sen. Marco Rubio, the engineering firm involved ordered the tightening of cables that had become loosened.

“They were being tightened when it collapsed,” Rubio said on Twitter Thursday night.

Florida transportation officials also said an engineer called two days before the bridge collapse to report cracking at one end of its span.

The National Transportation Safety Board have a team on scene investigating the incident. “We’re charged by Congress to investigate transportation accidents to determine the cause to make recommendations, so that something like this does not happen in the future,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also conducting an investigation.

“The key is to be deliberate and meticulous and to work off of facts, not speculation, so that’s what we intend to do,” said Kemp.

Munilla Construction Management released a new statement Friday in response to the collapse. It reads in part, “The National Transportation Safety Board is commencing an in-depth investigation of yesterday’s FIU pedestrian bridge collapse. MCM is fully cooperating with the NTSB in its effort to determine the cause of this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the families and victims.”

If you have any information on the bridge collapse that can help investigators, call police at 305-471-2421 or 305-471-2400. You can also email video to police at MDPDFVU@GMAIL.COM.

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