Florida university bridge collapses leaving 'several fatalities'

Miami police have said there are a number of victims after a newly installed pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University.

Images of the buckled structure at the college in Miami were shared across social media on Thursday afternoon.

A Florida Highway Patrol official said there were several fatalities, but police have yet to confirm a number.

It was unclear how many people were still trapped in eight vehicles beneath the bridge, Miami officials said.

"This is going to be a long incident. We are going to have rescuers here through the night, if not longer," Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said on Thursday.
A view of the collapsed pedestrian bridge on the Florida International University in Miami, Florida, which left up to ten dead
At least eight people have been taken to hospital to be treated for injuries. Two people were "cut out and extricated from the debris", he added.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt Alejandro Camacho told CBS News there were several fatalities.

US Senator Bill Nelson told local media six to 10 people were killed in the collapse, but the exact figures have yet to be confirmed by law enforcement.

Aerial footage shows first responders trying to get under the bridge to trapped cars.

The university issued a statement saying rescue efforts were still underway.
The remains of a truck is seen poking out from the rubble of the pedestrian bridge which collapsed on a busy seven-lane highway
"We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge," said a university spokesperson.

"At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information."

Miami-Dade County Emergency Management urged commuters to avoid the area.

A witness told ABC News that the screams coming from the cars were "terrifying".

"As soon as I looked outside, I saw dust flying everywhere," Tiona Page said. "I knew the bridge had collapsed."

Florida Governor Rick Scott responded to the accident on Twitter: "I have spoken with Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU.

"I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day."
Arescue dog and its handler works at the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed to search for survivors 
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump was aware of the incident and would send any assistance needed to help local law enforcement officials.

The 861-tonne bridge was erected on Saturday, CBS Miami reports.

The span, which connected the college to a student housing area, had long been requested by students and staff at the university so they could avoid the traffic below, according to the Miami Herald.

In August 2017, a student was hit and killed by cars while crossing the busy road.
Authorities placed a yellow sheet covering the license plate of this vehicle, which was crushed by the collapsed bridge
Images show a number of emergency rescue workers crawling along the rubble in an attempt to spot survivors
Munilla Construction company (MCM), a family-owned contractor that helped build the bridge, tweeted "thoughts and prayers" for those affected by the tragedy.

"We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way," the firm tweeted.
FIGG Bridge Engineers, the company that designed the project, said the bridge was not expected to be open to foot traffic until sometime next year. It is seen above before its collapse
The university had touted the new swinging span on Twitter just days ago.

The 174ft (53m) cable-supported footbridge was to be publicly opened in 2019, local media say.

Costing $14.2m (£12.5m), it was funded by the US Department of Transportation.

NBA basketball team Miami Heat tweeted their support to the FIU community.

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