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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The search for those trapped under the rubble at the Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse has turned from a rescue to a recovery operation.

Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said six people died in the collapse, five on the scene and one person who was taken to the hospital. He added that nine people were injured.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are now on the scene.

The recovery effort is proceeding slowly as engineers determine the structural integrity of the bridge. Zabaleta said the death toll may rise as they proceed with the recovery effort.

“There is the possibility, the sad possibility, that under the concrete there may be additional vehicles. The engineers are working at it in a very tactical way because the structure is very fragile and it could be very dangerous to rescue personnel that are still there,” said Zabaleta.

The 950-ton bridge, located at 109th Ave and 8th Street, came crumbling down onto a number of cars just after 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Gallery: Scene of the FIU Bridge Collapse 

Early Friday morning, the university tweeted a video of FIU President Mark Rosenberg expressing his condolences.

“Yesterday’s tragic accident of the bridge collapse stuns us. It saddens us. It’s exactly the opposite of what we had intended. We want to express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of those who have been affected. The bridge was about collaboration, about neighborliness, about doing the right thing. But today we’re sad. All we can do is promise a very thorough investigation, getting to the bottom of this, and mourn those who we’ve lost. Thank you.”

Senator Marco Rubio met Thursday night with representatives from the agencies who will now try to determine what led to the collapse.

Construction of the bridge began in the spring of 2017 and was expected to be completed in early 2019.

The bridge was built next to SW 8th Street and last Saturday was lowered into place.

The bridge was meant to be part of a larger transportation initiative to create a safer path for students and local residents. It was constructed using an innovative approach to bridge construction – a technique meant to reduce potential risks to workers, commuters, and pedestrians and prevented traffic tie-ups in the area.

Funding for the $14.2 million bridge, connecting plazas and walkways is part of a $19.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Other funding agencies include the Federal Highway Administration, Florida Department of Transportation Local Agency Program, FIU and the City of Sweetwater.

The eastbound exit ramp to SW 8th Street from the Turnpike remains closed due to the collapse. Drivers in the area will be detoured.

traffic pattern Six Dead In FIU Bridge Collapse

SW 8th Street detour (Source: Florida Highway Patrol)

The University will be open Friday, but the north entrance on SW 8th Street will remain blocked. Several parking lots will also be closed. The university will be running shuttles from the campus to the Sweetwater Commons building on the other side of SW 8th Street. FIU students are on Spring Break and will return to class on Monday.


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