A 950-ton pedestrian bridge has collapsed around two in the afternoon (local time) this Thursday in Miami and has fallen on a six-lane highway leaving eight vehicles trapped.
After hours of work day and night in the rubble, this Friday at dawn the Miami-Dade police has confirmed that at least six people have died -one in the hospital- and has warned that “there is the sad possibility that under the concrete There are still more cars. ”
The main part of the infrastructure had been installed last Saturday and gave access to pedestrians to the campus of the International University of Florida (FIU), one of the most important in the state. The emergency teams work urgently in the rescue operation.
The overpass, of large dimensions, has collapsed on the Tamiami Trail (Calle Ocho). Its collapse was sudden and the traffic on that point of the avenue was stopped with the traffic light in red, reason why the heavy infrastructure of concrete came on top of cars that were not in movement.
This afternoon around the place, cordoned off by the police, neighbors and journalists watched the collapsed bridge from afar. “I could see on Saturday how they accommodated him without a problem and now look at him for whatever it was, he broke down,” Mayardo Pérez said on the roof of his house on the ground floor, from where he contemplated the disaster. “When I arrived from work, some neighbors told me that a girl was heard to scream and the firemen were trying to rescue her,” he added.
Rescuers continue to work with the hope of finding someone alive under the mass of broken concrete. “That crossing was very dangerous and we had already had several people run over, the bridge was made to avoid that and now we have an even worse tragedy,” said Mercedes, a neighbor of Sweetwater who preferred not to give her last name.
A group of neighbors commented in a circle what happened. “I do not know why they made a pedestrian bridge with so many tons of concrete, why did not they make it of metal and lighter?” One asked.
In videos broadcast on social networks, you can see images of cars crushed under the bridge and drivers’ comments are heard: “Look what happened to us, look what happened to that car, look what fell on it. nothing happened to us but the people in front did die, “says one, shocked, while recording the scene live. “Look at this, my God, that bridge how he fell and he has everyone there, a pile of dead people,” says another, amidst the sounds of a siren.
The bridge project, which had not yet been opened to the public, was started in the spring of 2017. It had phases to complete and it was foreseen that the work would be completed by 2019.
The central section, which has collapsed was 53 meters and the general construction budget was 14.2 million dollars (11.5 million euros). This section of the infrastructure was not built on site but elsewhere and was moved on Saturday for installation.
The bridge connected the campus with the city of Sweetwater and had been designed to facilitate transit between the university and a housing complex of FIU students. In that area, about 4,000 students live downtown. It was about making sure the passage has given the dense traffic of the avenue. Last summer a student was killed when she tried to cross the Tamiami Trail.
Television images show the bridge split in half over the road and trapped vehicles, some completely crushed. Eight people have been transferred to the Kendall Regional Medical Center hospital and two are in critical condition.
Florida International University has issued a statement lamenting the accident: “We are shocked and saddened by the tragic events that have occurred at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge, and we are still involved in the rescue and information gathering efforts at this time.” , read the note. “What was to be an iconic and stable part of connectivity between the city and the university, became a national tragedy,” said Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez.
For now the reason for the bridge’s collapse is unknown. The company that was building it, MCM Construction Management, has posted a message on its Facebook page promising to perform “a thorough investigation.”
While the United States is a country where aging infrastructures abound, bridge collapses are rare. In 2007, 13 people were killed by the collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi River, Minneapolis, in the state of Minsesota.