Pedestrian bridge collapses over busy highway, four dead

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Four people have been killed and at least ten people injured after a pedestrian bridge collapsed over a busy highway in Florida, in the United States. 

The 53-meter long bridge, which connects Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater, collapsed around 13:30 on Thursday afternoon (around 19:30 SA time), trapping at least eight vehicles in the wreckage.

According to a Reuters report, witnesses say the vehicles were stopped at a traffic light when the bridge, which spans eight lanes of traffic, collapsed.

Rescue personnel were hard at work with sniffer dogs as they searched for signs of life amid the wreckage of the 950-tonne bridge.

The bridge has caused some controversy as it was erected in six hours on Saturday, a report posted on the university’s website said.

It was erected following the death of an 18-year-old  female FIU student from San Diego was killed in August last year, while trying to cross the busy road, local media reports said.

CBS Miami television said that police even asked television helicopters to leave the area so that rescuers could hear people crying for help beneath the collapsed structure.

The bridge, which cost $14.2-million to build, was designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and built to last 100 years. Category 5 is the most dangerous measure of a storm used by the National Hurricane Centre.

The bridge was installed by Munilla Construction Management, a family-owned business founded in 1983. According to its website, it has divisions in Texas and Panama and employs around 500 people.

“Munilla Construction Management is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist,” the company said in a statement.

FIGG Engineering, which assisted in the bridge project, reported that this was the first time a bridge collapsed in their 40-year history.

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