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Multiple dead after Florida bridge collapse

A pedestrian bridge that was under construction collapsed onto a busy Miami highway Thursday afternoon, crushing vehicles beneath massive slabs of concrete and steel and killing at least four people, authorities said.

Search-and-rescue crews worked into the night, using dogs, search cameras and sensitive listening devices in a frantic search to find survivors among the debris.

“Everybody is working hard to make sure we rescue anyone who can be rescued,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

But Miami-Dade police director Juan Perez said hopes were dwindling as the hours passed.

“We know that there’s going to be a negative outcome at the end of the day,” Perez said.

Four people were found dead amid the chaotic scene, and nine victims were taken “early on” to hospitals, Fire Chief Dave Downey said without elaborating on their conditions.

The partially built 950-ton (860-metric ton) bridge had been assembled by the side of the highway and moved into place Saturday to great fanfare. The span stretched almost 200 feet (60 meters) to connect Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater. It was expected to open to foot traffic next year.

“This bridge was about goodness, not sadness,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg. “Now we’re feeling immense sadness, uncontrollable sadness.”

Scott said an exhaustive investigation will uncover “why this happened and what happened,” and he vowed to hold accountable those responsible.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt III said a team of specialists was heading to Miami on Thursday night to investigate.

Jacob Miller, a senior at FIU, was visiting a friend in a dorm when he heard sirens and horns honking. He went to a balcony and could see rubble coming down.

“I saw there were multiple cars crushed under the bridge. It was just terrible,” he said.

An accelerated construction method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption, the university said.AP

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