At least six dead after newly-installed 860 tonne pedestrian bridge collapses in Florida

A pedestrian bridge installed for students at Florida International University in Miami has collapsed and left at least six injured and further nine injured, just days after it was constructed.

Police say eight vehicles were crushed at the Sweetwater University Bridge fell over an eight-lane motorway on Thursday afternoon. Rescue efforts from local authorities at the scene have been ongoing through the night in the hope of finding any survivors. 

The Miami bridge is estimated to have cost the US Department of Transportation $14.2m to build. The 175ft long, 860 tonne bridge took just six hours to be erected on Saturday and was intended to be able to withstand a category 5 hurricane should the city be hit by one. The aim of the bridge was to improve student safety by providing pedestrian access over the Tamiami Trail, a busy stretch of Florida highway. A student at the university sadly died trying to cross the highway last August.

The bridge was installed using a method called "accelerated bridge construction" which aims to cause less disruption and make installing new bridges easier. A major section of the bridge was assembled on the side of the road and then raised into place.

According to the university, the bridge was the first in the world to be constructed entirely of self-cleaning concrete. The technique in which bridges can be replaced in 48 to 72 hours, was also meant to mean the Miami bridge would last up to 100 years.

Commenting on the tragedy, Florida governor Rick Scott said: "There will clearly be an investigation to find out exactly what happened and why this happened. But the most important thing we can do right now is pray for the individuals that ended up in the hospital for their full recovery. Pray for the family members that have lost loved ones.”

The company behind the construction, Munilla Construction Management, has reacted to the tragic news by stating it would be carrying out a full investigation to understand what caused the collapse. 

A spokesman for the firm said: "The new University City Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life. MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way."

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