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A pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapsed Thursday afternoon, killing at least four people with several cars trapped underneath

By Caitlin Keating
March 15, 2018 02:45 PM
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A pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapsed Thursday afternoon, killing at least four people with several cars trapped underneath, the Miami Herald reports.

Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Dave Downey told the newspaper four people had died — including a student at FIU. Nine other people were pulled from the rubble, according to the Herald. None of the deceased have been identified.

Florida Highway Patrol confirmed to PEOPLE earlier on Thursday that there have been several fatalities.

The bridge was just installed on Saturday morning and wasn’t yet open for pedestrian use. It was built to let students walk across from the main campus to an area where students live in dorms and off-campus housing. Construction was expected to finish in early 2019.

In a statement on Twitter, Munilla Construction Management, the company that was hired to build the bridge said: “Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life. MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”

Student Damany Reed, who is a sophomore at FIU, tells PEOPLE: “I was sitting in my apartment with my girlfriend watching Netflix and suddenly we heard a series of booms. It wasn’t just one. A lot of people sprung into action.”

According to Reed, the busy eight-lane highway below the bridge was deemed extremely dangerous, and that just last year someone was killed while attempting to cross it.

“Some kids don’t have patience to wait for the light, so they run when it’s still yellow,” he says. “The bridge was built for safety reasons.”

Reed, who watched the horrific scene unfold from his window, says he saw someone pulled from the rubble and then placed onto a stretcher with a sheet over their head.

“Whoever isn’t it out, it’s not very hopeful,” he says about the people trapped.

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Credit: Monique O. Madan/Twitter

According to The Miami News Times, the university, which is currently on spring break, sent out press releases just five days ago announcing the 174-foot bridge opening.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety,” FIU President Mark Rosenberg said Saturday. “This project accomplishes our mission beautifully. We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live.”

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Credit: Monique O. Madan/Twitter

A Miami Herald reporter who is live on the scene posted on Twitter that police have moved media away “just in case the rest falls.”

Another person posted a photo of the bridge, adding that she had just driven under it before it fell.

In a tweet, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he is in communication with authorities about the incident.

FIU issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge. At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information. We are working closely with authorities and first responders on the scene. We will share updates as we have them.”