Voicemail reveals cracks found in FIU bridge days before collapse

"This voicemail was left on a landline and not heard by an FDOT employee until Friday, March 16 as the employee was out of the office on assignment", the department said in a late evening news release.

The lead engineer of FIGG Bridge Engineers, the company that led the design of the walkway, left a voicemail with FDOT Tuesday that said cracks had appeared on the bridge and were in need of fix.

A split second later and the driver of this squashed truck might have escaped shaken but unscathed.

At least six people died when it collapsed and several others were injured.

Authorities have not identified any of the victims and have said crews may find more people as they dig through the rubble.

The FDOT released a transcript of the message on Friday night.

MCM was accused of substandard work in a lawsuit filed this month by a worker injured when a makeshift bridge the company built at the Fort Lauderdale airport collapsed under his weight.

Uncertainty over the stability of remaining sections of the bridge hampered rescue efforts, officials said.

"The structure is very fragile, it's very unsafe for rescuers", a police spokesman said. But in regard to the Florida situation, corrosion is not entirely likely since the bridge was recently assembled off site.

The sudden collapse of the 950-ton #Bridge that connected #Florida International University to a student housing area took everyone by surprise.

Richie Humble, who studies at Florida International University, was riding in a vehicle under the pedestrian bridge when he heard a long creaking noise coming from the structure that spanned a busy Miami-area highway. He said they were moving slowly to allow inspectors time to investigate the bridge, and to ensure that the bodies are removed in the most respectful way possible.

In a statement released from the engineering group, FIGG representatives said the company is stunned by the collapse.

Cheryl Stopnick, a spokeswoman for FIGG Bridge, told HuffPost in a statement that an evaluation of the bridge "based on the best available information at that time" and conducted before the collapse "indicated that there were no safety issues".

"What really bothers me is with ABC, the benefits are so substantial that I would hate to see this accident lead to its reduced use", said Michael Culmo, a bridge engineer in CT who has worked on accelerated construction projects for decades.

A college student who narrowly escaped from a auto that got smashed in the collapse said he watched helplessly as the structure tumbled down on top of the vehicle and killed the friend who was sitting next to him in the driver's seat.

The department stressed that "the responsibility to identify and address life-safety issues and properly communicate them is the sole responsibility of the FIU design-build team", adding that "FIGG and the FIU design build team never alerted FDOT of any life-safety issue regarding the FIU pedestrian bridge prior to collapse". It sounded different from anything he had ever heard before.

The general approach has been around since the mid-19th century - and has been used safely and successfully for a long time - but interest in ABC has increased in recent years as states have looked for quicker, less expensive ways to replace thousands of aging bridges.

He contacted Diaz's friends to get in touch with Duran's parents. He called to her but got no response. A group of men outside the auto started yelling at him to try crawling through the rear window.

He couldn't squeeze through because the window was crushed. The men outside grabbed a wooden plank and pried open the rear door to pull him free, he said.

"I was trying to get people to realise my friend was still in there", he said. The cause is under investigation, but authorities said yesterday that cables were being tightened when it collapsed.

Scheduled to open in 2019, the bridge would have provided safe passage over a canal and six lanes of traffic.

The $14.2 million project was supposed to take advantage of a faster, cheaper and safer method of bridge-building promoted by the university.

Emergency workers drill into the collapsed bridge in a vain quest for survivors.

Authorities have not confirmed the victims' names.

The bridge was meant to provide a walkway over the busy street where an 18-year-old female FIU student from San Diego was killed while trying to cross last August, according to local media reports.

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez said he understood it was an agonising wait for families.

"Until all the pieces are put together to transmit the loads safely to the foundations, these bridges may suffer disproportionate or full collapse due to instability", Aref said.

"The outpouring of love we have received is incredible", Chelsea Brownfield wrote.

Brownfield declined to comment in a message to The Associated Press.

Vanessa Coleman

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