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At least four dead in Florida university bridge collapse

Florida – At least four people have been killed and 10 others hurt after a footbridge collapsed near Florida International University in Miami, officials say.

Rescuers are spending the night searching for victims trapped beneath the buckled structure.

The 862-tonne, 174ft (53m) bridge fell over an eight-lane motorway on Thursday afternoon, crushing at least eight vehicles, police said.

The bridge was erected on Saturday in just six hours.

It was built using a method called “accelerated bridge construction” to avoid traffic disruption. A major section of the bridge was assembled on the side of the road and then raised into place.

What is the latest on the victims?
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey confirmed on Thursday night that at least four people were killed.

“This is going to be a long incident. We are going to have rescuers here through the night, if not longer,” Chief Downey said.

Media captionFlorida officials: We found eight trapped cars and multiple fatalities
“We’re working our way into the pile trying to create holes that we can actually physically see,” Miami-Dade Fire Department Division Chief Paul Estopian told reporters.

At least 10 people were treated for injuries at the Kendall Regional Medical Center, including two who were in “extremely critical condition”, according to Dr Mark McKenney, director of general surgery.

At one point, police ordered TV helicopters to leave the area so rescue teams could hear for any sounds of people calling for help under the wreckage, CBS Miami television reported.

FIU students are currently on their spring break until 17 March.

What have eyewitnesses said?
They told local media that vehicles were stopped at a traffic light when the structure collapsed at about 13:30 local time (17:30 GMT).

It is still unclear how many people were under the bridge at the time.

One witness told ABC News that the screams coming from the cars were “terrifying”.

“As soon as I looked outside, I saw dust flying everywhere,” Tiona Page said. “I knew the bridge had collapsed.”

Media captionMiami bridge collapse witness: ‘This is crazy’
Another witness, Damany Reed, told CBS News: “I heard a big kaboom… it sounded continuous. We look outside… we thought something had fallen but it was the bridge that collapsed. It was just surreal at that moment and pretty scary.”

“I saw there were multiple cars crushed under the bridge. It was just terrible,” Jacob Miller, an FIU student, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

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