Death toll from Florida bridge collapse climbs to 6

Posted on: March 16th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

GabrielaRose12/Twitter(MIAMI) —  The death toll from the bridge collapse on Florida International University’s campus has climbed to six, police said.

Five of those were pronounced dead at the scene, and another died after being transported to a hospital, Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department, said at an early-morning press conference.

Zabaleta could not confirm the names, races or sexes of any of the six victims. Another press conference to share additional details has been planned for 9 a.m. EST.

Joining local authorities on the scene were officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and FBI. Engineering crews have worked nonstop, Zabaleta said.

“We’ve been working throughout the entire night,” he said. “This is a very slow process. They’re still working away at that concrete.”

 Victim advocates are reaching out to family members of those who were killed.

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

Late Thursday night authorities reclassified the mission to a recovery effort from a rescue effort, indicating it’s unlikely survivors would be discovered in the wreckage.

In addition to ensuring the safety of those digging through the rubble, efforts are slowed because there’s probably evidence to be collected from what’s left, Zabaleta said.

“We don’t want to rush it and damage any evidence,” he added. “That bridge, whatever’s left of it, is very, very unstable.”

The bridge, hailed as an engineering marvel, slammed to the ground around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and immediately trapped at least eight vehicles, authorities said.

Ten injured in the collapse were transported to Kendall Medical and labeled as level-one trauma patients, Dr. Mark McKenney, the hospital’s program director, said on Thursday. They ranged in age from 20 to 50. Eight others were admitted with broken bones, bruises and abrasions. Additional patients may have been admitted to other facilities.

The NTSB is planning to investigate the collapse and plans to deploy a team of 15 specialists that includes engineering, material-science and survival-factor experts.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio described the incident as “troubling and tragic,” adding that it affects him personally because he has been an adjunct professor for the university for 10 years.

“Ironically, it’s a project for safety” that was constructed after a student died last year crossing that intersection, Rubio said during an evening press conference.

Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez released a statement saying he is “actively monitoring” the “tragic situation” from abroad. He has dispatched Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp to the scene, he said.

FIU is one of the 10 largest universities in the country, with nearly 54,000 students enrolled, according to its website.

This is a developing story. Check back later for more information.

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