Death toll climbs to six after Florida bridge collapses

The newly installed 950-ton bridge collapsed on Thursday afternoon

Death toll climbs to six after Florida bridge collapses

Police and first responders work on the scene at the footbridge collapse site in Miami, Florida. Picture by: Monica McGivern/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated: 13.25

Hope of finding more survivors in the rubble of a collapsed pedestrian bridge in Florida has faded, officials have said.

Six people are now confirmed to have died when the newly installed 950-ton bridge at the Florida International University collapsed on Thursday afternoon.

Five were found dead at the scene and another died in hospital.

Rescuers have been working through the night using high-tech listening devices, trained sniffer dogs and search cameras to find anyone still alive in the rubble.

They have found no sign of life.

"We don't anticipate that we will find anybody alive in there," officer Lee Cowart, spokesperson of the Miami-Dade police department, told the Miami Herald.

At least eight vehicles were trapped in the wreckage of the bridge, as fire engines and ambulances rushed to the scene.

One desperate woman whose daughter was in one of the crushed vehicles begged to search the rubble herself, the Miami Herald reported. Her request was denied.

Speaking to reporters, Juan Perez, the director of the Miami Dade police department, said: "Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of this tragedy.

"We are assisting in the efforts and the main focus is to rescue people."

Rescuers search through the rubble of the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami | Image: Miami Herald/TNS/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

One hospital said it has been treating 10 trauma patients. One arrived in cardiac arrest. Their hears was restarted and they were operated on. That person is now in intensive care with head and chest injuries.

Another patient arrived at hospital in a coma with severe injuries to their extremities. They have been operated on by neuro and orthopaedic surgeons.

The other eight patients at that hospital have injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones. All are said to be in a stable condition. Doctors say they range in age from about 20 to about 50-years-old.

It has been confirmed that workers were on the top of the bridge, and there were "surface rescues" as well as two people pulled out of the debris.

A family reunification centre has been set up for anyone concerned about relatives involved in the tragedy.

Florida governor Rick Scott has been briefed.

The university tweeted: "The pedestrian bridge across Southwest Eighth Street has collapsed, please avoid the area."

A statement said they were "shocked and saddened" at the tragic events and would be working to gather information and help rescue efforts.

Firefighters have been working to secure the bridge while searching for casualties.

Munilla Construction Management, the company involved in the bridge build, called the accident a "terrible tragedy" and vowed to find out why the bridge collapsed.

"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," it said in a statement.

"We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way."

According to the Miami Herald, the bridge was dubbed an "instant" bridge and was installed on Saturday, to help students at the university get across the busy road.

The bridge's main span was assembled at the side of the road, and then moved into place by crane.

The university told the Herald the installation process reduced the risk to pedestrians and workers and minimised traffic disruption.

The US$14.9m (€12.1m) bridge crossed over a seven-lane road dividing the campus from the city of Sweetwater and was due to be completed in 2019.

On the bridge installation on Saturday, the university president Mark B Rosenberg said: "FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully."