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Meeting held before Florida bridge collapsed deemed cracks 'not a safety issue'

Investigators are attempting to determine if the cracks led to the collapse.

At Least 6 Dead After Collapse Of Pedestrian Bridge In Miami The scene of the bridge collapse. Source: Joe Raedle/Getty

TWO VEHICLES CONTAINING three bodies were removed from the wreckage of the Miami bridge which collapsed on Thursday as authorities continued to remove debris in attempt to recover at least four cars still trapped.

Police used cameras to locate five bodies in the ruble of the pedestrian bridge under construction at Florida International University (FIU). Authorities were carefully trying to get to remaining victims.

At least six people were killed when the structure fell onto a busy highway two days ago.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the collapse and whether cracking that was reported just before the span fell contributed to the bridge failure.

An engineer left a voicemail two days before the collapse to say some cracking had been found at one end of the concrete span, but the voicemail wasn’t picked up until after the collapse, Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) officials said yesterday.

At Least 6 Dead After Collapse Of Pedestrian Bridge In Miami Source: Joe Raedle/Getty

The voicemail left on a landline wasn’t heard by a state DOT employee until Friday because the employee was out of the office on an assignment, the agency said in an email.

In a transcript released last night, Denney Pate with FIGG Bridge Group says the cracking would need repairs “but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective”.

FIU released a statement today saying representatives from the university and DOT met with a FIGG engineer for two hours on Thursday morning to discuss the cracking and determined there wasn’t a safety issue.

The bridge fell soon afterward.

FIU said:

The FIGG engineer of record delivered a technical presentation regarding the crack and concluded that there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge.

At a press conference, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said they have just begun their investigation, and cannot yet say whether any cracking contributed to the collapse.

They also said workers were trying to strengthen a diagonal member on the bridge when it collapsed.

Richie Humble, who studies at FIU, was riding in a car under the pedestrian bridge when he heard a long creaking noise coming from the structure that spanned a busy Miami-area highway.

It sounded different from anything he had ever heard before. Humble said in a phone interview with The Associated Press:

I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it.

Once Humble realized he was alive, he also realized that he could not get to Duran. He called to her but got no response. A group of men outside the car started yelling at him to try crawling through the rear window.

He couldn’t squeeze through because the window was crushed. The men outside grabbed a wooden plank and pried open the rear door to pull him free, he said.

) on March 16, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Source: Joe Raedle/Getty

“I was trying to get people to realize my friend was still in there,” he said.

He suffered cuts to his leg from glass and a slight fracture to a vertebra, but he was able to walk away from the scene.

Scheduled to open in 2019, the bridge would have provided safe passage over a canal and six lanes of traffic and created a showpiece architectural feature connecting the campus of FIU with the community of Sweetwater, where many students live.

Read: At least six dead after bridge collapses on highway in Florida >

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Associated Press

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