Miami, USA, Mar 15 (EFE).- Florida authorities confirmed Thursday that at least four people have died and an undetermined number of people have been injured following the collapse of a newly installed pedestrian bridge over the city’s famous eighth street.
At a press conference Thursday night, Miami-Dade County Fire Department Chief David Downey confirmed that the “tragic event” claimed the lives of four people and that nine others have been transferred to local hospitals, but did not elaborate further on the condition of the victims.
The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, said during the press conference that a “full investigation” of the event will be conducted and that, if necessary, charges will be filed against those responsible.
Scott added that “everyone is working hard to make sure we rescue anyone who can be rescued.”
Downey said that the “search and rescue mode” would continue overnight with support from technical equipment as well as trained rescue dogs to search for survivors under the rubble.
“We have to remove some of this piece by piece. It’s very unstable,” the fire department chief added.
Aerial images published on Twitter by the Miami-Dade Rescue Department show crews working on the concrete remains of the bridge, accompanied by K-9 dogs searching for possible survivors.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who was also present at the press conference, labeled the incident as a “tragic event”, especially since “ironically it’s a project designed for safety,” of the pedestrians who need to cross the busy 8th Street.
At a press conference from Washington DC, the chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Robert Sumwalt, said that his agency has sent a team to Miami to investigate the incident.
He added that the NTSB was not aware of any deficiency in this type of bridge, but that if the investigations reflect anything in this line of thought, it has the power to issue “urgent recommendations”.
The purpose of the pedestrian bridge was to connect student apartment buildings in the suburb of Sweetwater, where at least 4,000 students live, with the main campus of the Florida International University (FIU).
The construction of the bridge began in the spring of 2017, and it was expected to be completed by the beginning of 2019. The bridge was lifted onto the pillars on Mar 10.
The 14.2 million dollars bridge was constructed using the so-called “Accelerated Bridge Construction method,” which FIU said would reduce ” potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions.”
As FUI students need to cross the eight-lane highway to get to the campus, this project was intended to protect them from road accidents, like one that happened last August when a young woman died.
Mark McKenney, chief surgeon of the Kendall Regional Medical Center, told media that ten people were transferred to his center, two of them in critical condition, one of which arrived with a cardiac arrest.