A pedestrian walkway in Miami collapsed on Thursday, killing several people.
The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the fatalities after multiple vehicles were crushed by the span near Florida International University’s campus.
The walkway weighed 950 tons and was 174 feet long, according to FIU.
The bridge was scheduled to open early next year and was designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. The bridge was built across the seven-lane Tamiami Trail, connecting the FIU campus to the town of Sweetwater, where the university estimates some 4,000 students live.
“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge,” the university said in a statement. “At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information.”
The Florida Highway Patrol reported five or six cars were trapped under the bridge. Miami-Dade County police said at least eight cars had been crushed under the walkway, which was not yet open to student traffic.
At least eight people had been transported to the trauma center at Kendall Regional Medical Center, according to a source close to the hospital. The condition of the patients is not yet known.
Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez said he believed there were multiple people trapped. He wouldn’t venture to guess at the number because first responders were having trouble getting to the vehicles. South Florida’s WSVN reported that television news helicopters were ordered to back off so rescuers could listen for sounds from survivors.
The collapse was clearly a major failure of a project not expected to be completed until early 2019. There was no immediate explanation for what might have triggered the collapse, which occurred shortly before 2 p.m.
MCM Construction Management, which is building the bridge, posted a message to the company’s Facebook page after the collapse promising “a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong.”
BDI, the engineering firm responsible for monitoring the structure, said the company would release a statement regarding the bridge collapse later Thursday.