US & Canada

Miami bridge collapse: Victims honoured as students return

Law enforcement and members of the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the scene where a pedestrian bridge collapsed a few days after it was built in Miami, Florida. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The exact cause of the bridge's collapse is still unclear, officials say

Students returning to class after spring holiday held a campus-wide "moment of silence" for six victims killed in a bridge collapse.

The pedestrian bridge built on the Florida International University (FIU) campus came crashing down days after it was built, trapping cars beneath it.

All six victims have been identified by authorities. Among the dead was 18-year-old FIU student Alexa Duran.

Investigators are still looking into what led to the bridge to collapse.

Police also confirmed the deaths of Rolando Fraga, 60, Oswald Gonzalez, 57, Alberto Arias, 53, Navaro Brown, 37, and Brandon Brownfield, whose age has not been released.

The moment of silence occurred at 13:47 local time (17:46 GMT), the same time the bridge collapsed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the first lawsuit was filed over the incident.

Marquise Rashaad Hepburn's legal action says he was on his bicycle when he was hit by a car swerving to avoid falling concrete from the bridge, and he was seriously injured.

The lawsuit lodged in Miami-Dade Circuit Court seeks unspecified damages from the companies involved in the design and building of the structure.

The school is planning a memorial vigil to be held on Wednesday in addition to Monday's moment of silence. Ms Duran's sorority will also hold a remembrance for her on Thursday.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Six crosses hang for the six victims of the collapse

Rescuers dug through the rubble and recovered the sixth and final victim on Saturday night. He was named as Mr Brownfield on Sunday.

Among the dead were two friends, Mr Gonzalez and Mr Arias, who owned a party rental business together. They were found inside a Chevy truck.

"Our hearts break for the victims of the bridge collapse. Lives have been lost. Futures and families shattered," FIU President Mark Rosenberg said in a statement released over the weekend.

'No safety concerns'

Hours before the bridge fell, state and university officials met engineers who said "there were no safety concerns" about a crack that was found in the structure.

The 862-tonne, 174ft (53m) pedestrian bridge had been newly erected the previous Saturday in just six hours.

The meeting about the $14.2m (£10m) bridge included private contractors from FIGG and Munilla Construction Management - the two firms behind the bridge's construction - and the Florida Department of Transportation.

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Media captionMiami bridge collapse witness: 'This is crazy'

The bridge, designed to withstand a hurricane, collapsed over an eight-lane street just three hours after officials met.

The US National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, and has not yet determined what led to the bridge coming down.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that workers had been tightening cables supporting the bridge at the time it collapsed.

Saved by seconds

Many had their lives spared by seconds and watched the bridge flatten the street below it.

Dania Garlobo watched a man in a car in front of her slam on the brakes as the bridge came crashing down, she told the AP news agency.

"He was almost caught underneath. I couldn't believe it," Ms Garlobo said.

Sweetwater police detective Juan Llera sped to the scene when he heard the bridge fall and began performing CPR on a man lying in the street.

"You are keeping him alive. Keep going," he said he was told by medical staff. The man was alive when he was rushed away to the hospital by paramedics, he added.

Mr Llera later saw a photo of the man he had been helping on the news. He was named one of the victims.

Navarro Brown, 37, had not survived.

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Media captionMiami rescue workers search for survivors

Richie Humble, 19, was in the car with Alexa Duran when the bridge crashed down on them, killing her and trapping him.

"I heard a creak, a long creak," Mr Humble told the AP. "I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it."

The moment he realised he was alive he also noticed he could not get to his friend. He called out for her and got no response.

A group of people outside the car started yelling at him to crawl out of the car, prying the door open to free him.

He said he remembers sitting on the kerb and asking those around him: "What do I do?"

"Everyone has to pick up the pieces," Mr Humble said a rescuer told him. "Life doesn't stop."

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