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'Multiple' fatalities after brand new pedestrian bridge collapses in Florida

The bridge collapsed in a college area, crushing at least eight vehicles.

Multiple Fatalities Reported After Collapse Of Pedestrian Bridge In Miami The scene in Miami Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Updated 9.25pm

A BRAND NEW pedestrian bridge has collapsed onto a highway in Miami, killing multiple people and crushing eight vehicles, authorities have said.

Search and rescue missions are under way and at least eight people have been taken to various hospitals. The number of fatalities is not yet clear.

“The main focus is to rescue people. As soon as those efforts are over, our homicide bureau will take the lead,” Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said.

The main companies behind the bridge’s construction have faced questions about their work and one of the companies was fined in 2012 when a 90-ton section of a bridge collapsed in Virginia.

In Miami, the 950-ton, 174-foot span was assembled by the side of the highway and moved into place last Saturday to great fanfare. The $14.2 million (about €11.5 million) bridge connected Florida International University and the city of Sweetwater. It was expected to open to foot traffic next year.

“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge. At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information,” the school said in a statement.

‘National tragedy’ 

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the scene. Governor Rick Scott is also en route.

“We have a national tragedy on our hands,” Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said.

The “accelerated bridge construction” method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimise traffic disruption, the university said.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” FIU President Mark B Rosenberg said in the statement on Saturday.

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