Emergency crews have announced Friday that they shifted their focus from an initial rescue mission to a recovery effort. This is after they were convinced that there were no more signs of life under the rubble of the Florida bridge, which collapsed Thursday.
Officer Lee Cowart, a spokesperson of the Miami-Dade police department, confirmed to the Miami Herald, that they no longer believe they will find anyone alive in the wreckage of the collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University.
“We don’t anticipate that we will find anybody alive in there.”
Authorities revealed that the death toll has risen to at least six and there may be more bodies buried in the debris. According to CNN, at least nine people were removed from the collapse and rushed to Kendall Regional Medical Center.
Cowart told the outlet that Miami-Dade police have no idea how many people are still missing and presumed dead. However, fire rescue claimed there are at least eight vehicles trapped under the collapsed bridge.
With more vehicles still stuck in the rubble, authorities are reportedly working longer hours searching, not for survivors but for the recovery of deceased bodies and extraction of the trapped vehicles.
The excavation process during the recovery effort is expected to proceed more slowly and with the highest caution to avoid further collapse. Cowart said the whole structure is considered “unsafe,” especially for investigators conducting the recovery efforts.
“They are working through the night. That whole structure is considered unsafe right now.”
The pedestrian bridge, which reportedly used the Accelerated Bridge Construction or instant bridge, collapsed over a busy road on Thursday. Apparently, vehicles were stopped at a red light when the 950-ton bridge crashed down around 1:30 p.m.
And while the exact cause of the collapse remains unknown, officials confirmed that the Florida bridge was undergoing a stress test before the incident.
Meanwhile, authorities confirmed that the Southwest Eighth Street between Southwest 107th and 117th avenues would be closed indefinitely for a thorough investigation.
Families of the victims are also encouraged to coordinate with the family reunification centers at the university and local hospitals for useful information about their loved ones.
FIU, on the other hand, is opening its campus on Friday to offer free counseling services to friends and families of the victims.