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Published On: Fri, Mar 16th, 2018

Florida bridge collapse: death toll rises to 6 as recovery continues and more questions emerge

The death toll from the collapse of an enormous pedestrian bridge at Florida International University has climbed to six as recovery teams comb the rubble for survivors.

Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta spoke to the press from the scene, stating that “There is the possibility, the sad possibility, that under the concrete there may be additional vehicles.”

screenshot of video coverage from WTOP

Five people died at the scene and another person died at the hospital, Zabaleta said, warning again that the death toll could rise further.

Praised for the unique design and construction, the pedestrian bridge collapsed Thursday over a busy road west of Miami, crushing at least eight vehicles and leaving rescue teams with challenge of removing chunks of concrete and snapped metal.

State and federal officials prepare to begin investigating disaster, asking how the 950 ton bridge came down and who’s responsible for approving the nearly constructed connection between FIU and the city of Sweetwater. The $14.2 million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open in 2019 as a safe way to cross the busy six-lane road.

“The victims and their families deserve to know what went wrong. There will be an extraordinary review into what the errors were and what led to this catastrophic collapse,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday night.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said investigators will get to the bottom of “why this happened and what happened,” and if anyone did anything wrong, “we will hold them accountable.”

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in Washington on Thursday that a team was headed immediately to Miami to investigate and confessed that the agency did not know of deficiencies with this type of bridge.

The NTSB had been told construction workers were on the bridge at the time of the collapse, he said. “There’s a lot we don’t know,” he said, and much investigators intend to find out.

The project was a collaboration between MCM Construction, a Miami-based contractor, and Figg Bridge Design, based in Tallahassee. Figg is responsible for the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay.

Figg’s statement Thursday said the company was “stunned” by the collapse and would cooperate with investigations.

“In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before,” the statement said. “Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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