UPDATED: 8:53 a.m. EST, March 16 — Investigators raised the death toll to six people after a mammoth bridge collapsed on top of cars with drivers in them in Miami on Thursday afternoon, the Miami Herald reported. The number of people dead from the disaster had initially been put at four by late Thursday night.
Emergency crews continued to sift through the rubble from the more than 950-ton span that was expected to open early next year as a pedestrian walkway near the campus of Florida International University. Officials emphasized that more people may have been killed but it will take some time before that can be determined.
“They’re using a lot of the heavy equipment,”Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said during a press briefing Friday morning. “It’s a slow process because of the unsteadiness of the structure.”
UPDATED: 11:51 p.m. EST — At least four people were killed after a bridge over a road collapsed on top of vehicles with their drivers still in them on Thursday afternoon, NBC News reported. Investigators still combing through the debris from the crumbled pedestrian walkway were cautiously optimistic about the chances of more deaths being discovered.
“We’re going to continue to search this pile until we are sure that there’s no other survivors,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said during a press conference.
A span was recently installed, amazingly — or, perhaps fatefully — in just one day. It was scheduled to open to foot traffic by the start of next year.
The cause for the collapse was also under investigation, but Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said: “There was some sort of test going on this morning. Some kind of work was going on at that bridge, a stress test.”
UPDATED: 5:31 p.m. EST — As many as 10 people and as few as six were killed when a bridge collapsed on top of cars in Miami Thursday afternoon, according to a new report. The Daily Mail reported that Florida Sen. Bill Nelson gave CBS Miami that estimation for a death toll, but investigators likely won’t have an official number until they can clear away the debris from the 174-foot long-span that reportedly gave way when drivers underneath were stopped at a red light.
The cause of the collapse was under investigation, but work was being done on the bridge at the time of the accident, according to the Miami Herald.
“There was some sort of test going on this morning,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said from Hong Kong, where he is on official city business. “Some kind of work was going on at that bridge, a stress test.”
Multiple deaths were reported after a newly constructed bridge built for foot traffic in south Florida collapsed on Thursday afternoon. The bridge, located near the campus of Florida International University in Miami, was estimated to weigh more than 950 tons and trapped vehicles traveling beneath it at the time of its collapse, the Miami Herald reported.
While the number of people killed in the catastrophe was not immediately known, MSNBC tweeted that there were “mass casualties.” One woman told the Herald that “it was immediately clear to her that several people were dead.”
Stunning video footage and pictures of the disaster quickly spread on social media.
“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater Bridge,” FIU spokesperson Maydel Santana-Bravo said in a brief statement. “At this time, we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information. We are working closely with authorities and first responders on the scene. We will share updates as we have them.”
No cause of the collapse was immediately announced for the bridge, which was scheduled to be officially opened for pedestrians at some point next year.
The Miami Herald reported that the span had been billed as an “instant bridge” that “was installed in a single morning at Southwest 109th Avenue on Saturday, intended eventually to link Florida International University’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus directly to the small suburban city of Sweetwater, where the university estimates 4,000 of its students live.”
Witnesses to the bridge collapsing said they couldn’t believe their eyes.
“As soon as I looked outside, I saw dust flying everywhere,” Tiona Page told ABC News while describing the screams she heard from victims. “I knew the bridge had collapsed.”
The bridge had a completion date of January 2019 and cost more than $14 million to build, according to ABC News.
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as more information becomes available.