Miami, Mar 16 (EFE).- The death toll from the collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Miami stands at six, but that number could rise further as authorities on Friday continued to dig through the rubble in a search for more bodies.
“Our first priority is getting to those victims,” Juan Perez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said at a press conference Friday morning.
Investigators in the state of Florida have launched a criminal investigation, he added, while also urging the media not to jump to conclusions or divulge the possible identities of the victims, one of whom died at an area hospital.
The Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed Friday morning that the death toll from the collapse had climbed to six, one of whom was a student at Florida International University.
It also said 10 people had been injured, some of whom are hospitalized and in serious condition.
Around 10 cars were trapped under tons of rubble as a result of Thursday’s collapse of the bridge, which was designed to make it safer for thousands of students living in off-campus housing in the Miami suburb of Sweetwater to walk to the main campus of FIU.
Construction of the 950-ton bridge began in the spring of 2017 and was to be completed in early 2019. Last Saturday, the main span was installed over busy Southwest Eighth Street, but the structure had not yet been opened to foot traffic.
On Thursday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said the cables that suspended the FIU-Sweetwater bridge were being tightened when the bridge collapsed.
A federal investigation also is under way by the National Transportation Safety Board.
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said his team of 15 specialists arrived late Thursday and would remain for around a week to conduct a thorough probe.
“Our entire purpose in being here is to find out what happened so we can keep it from happening again,” Sumwalt said.
The bridge was designed by FIGG Bridge Group and built by Munilla Construction Management using a method known as Accelerated Bridge Construction.
An article last Saturday on FIU’s official news site said that construction process “reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions.”
It added that the “main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was installed in a few hours with limited disruption to traffic over this weekend.”