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There Are Fatalities And Several People Injured After A Pedestrian Bridge Collapsed At Florida International University

A newly-installed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed Thursday afternoon. There are "multiple victims," several injuries, and trapped cars underneath, local officials said.

WTVJ NBC6 via AP

Eight vehicles were trapped under the bridge and eight people were transported to the hospital, officials said. Two of those eight victims were "extricated" from under the bridge, fire officials said.

MIGUEL GUTIERREZ/AFP / Getty Images

Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said at a press briefing the final number of victims had not been determined yet. Once rescue efforts are completed, the Miami-Dade Police Department's Homicide Bureau will begin investigating the collapse, officials said.

Fire rescue crews said they were still working to find survivors underneath the debris, but said that as of 3 p.m. local time, they had found no signs that anyone had survived the collapse.

Florida International University issued a press release about the bridge on Wednesday with President Mark B. Rosenberg saying, "Nothing is going to stand in our way of promoting our students’ safety and security, and nothing is going to stand in our way of progress."

The release said that the bridge would provide "a safer crossing of the eight-lane thoroughfare for the 4,200 FIU students living in Sweetwater" and that it would also offer "9,900 square feet of gathering and event space."

Funding for the $14.2 million bridge was part of a $19.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the press release. Other funding agencies include the Federal Highway Administration, Florida Department of Transportation Local Agency Program, FIU, and the City of Sweetwater.

Construction of the bridge began in 2017 and was initially expected to be completed in early 2019, the university said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and first responders who are assisting in the on-going rescue and recovery efforts following today's tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University," the US Department of Transportation said.

Secretary Chao "offered the full assistance and support of the Department for both the immediate and long-term needs the community will have. The Secretary has dispatched Federal Highway Administration professional staff to the site to support the NTSB’s investigation,” the department said.

FIGG Engineering, which designed and worked on the bridge, issued a statement, saying they were "stunned" by the collapse and that "nothing like this has ever happened" in their 40-year history.

The statement read:

We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami. Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident. 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. Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.

Jesse Grimson, a partner for BDI, a small consulting and manufacturing firm based out of Colorado, told BuzzFeed News that it "did some work on the bridge during the move."

He refused to provide any additional comment saying he had just recently learned about the collapse.

"We have no idea what happened," he said.

A now-deleted tweet from BDI reads, "We are thrilled to have performed structural monitoring during a spectacular bridge move by #barnhartcrane at #FIU #Miami. Congratulations to BCR on a job well done, we always appreciate being part of the team!"

Grimson would not say why the March 12 tweet was removed.

And here's a video of what the bridge was supposed to look like, from Munilla Construction's YouTube page:

video-player.buzzfeed.com

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The president is aware of the pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University. Our brave first responders are working feverishly to save lives we will continue to monitor the situation closely and offer whatever support is needed to the local officials and community.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was on his way to the university to be briefed by local law enforcement and university officials.

In a statement, Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose district includes FIU's main campus, said he was "extremely disconcerted by the collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University and the news of fatalities and injuries."

"As soon as the immediate needs have been met, we need to get to the bottom of what happened today and ensure that it never happens again," Curbelo said.

Curbelo told BuzzFeed News that there was "sad irony" in the situation. "This project was built to keep students safe, and pedestrians safe, and it has ended up being the cause of death of drivers underneath," he said. "It's just unthinkable. Very painful."

Florida Rep. Mario Rafael Díaz-Balart told reporters, "We've got to find out what the heck happened here. I mean, this is beyond tragic."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at maryann.georgantopoulos@buzzfeed.com.

Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Salvador Hernandez at salvador.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.

Tanya Chen is a social news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in New York.

Contact Tanya Chen at tanya.chen@buzzfeed.com.

Lissandra Villa is a politics reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Lissandra Villa at lissandra.villahuerta@buzzfeed.com.

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