The death toll rose overnight in the catastrophic collapse of a 950-ton pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County as a search for survivors became a mission to recover bodies, police announced before dawn Friday.
At least six people are confirmed dead, Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told reporters at the scene along a normally busy eight-lane thoroughfare where the 174-foot-long bridge came down Thursday afternoon.
Five people died at the scene and another person died at the hospital, Zabaleta said.
Authorities withheld victims’ names. The death toll could rise, Zabaleta warned.
“There is the possibility, the sad possibility, that under the concrete there may be additional vehicles.” Zabaleta said.
At least eight vehicles were beneath the broken concrete slabs, officials said Thursday.
The bridge was put in place Saturday and was to be completed in 2019. It crossed the eight-lane Eighth Street and was intended to be a safe passageway for students and connect the school’s campus to the city of Sweetwater to the north.
State and federal investigators on Friday began to figure out why the span failed.
The university was open Friday.
National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt III said Thursday night that a “go team” of specialists, including experts in civil engineering and materials science, would study the failed project.
Firefighters got the call for help at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Search and rescue crews worked into the night to try to find survivors.
The $14.2 million bridge, which FIU said “swung into place” on Saturday, had not yet opened to the public.
© 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.