Homicide detectives opened an investigation on Friday into the collapse of a new footbridge that killed at least six people at Miami's Florida International University (FIU), as questions began to swirl about the companies behind the structure's controversial design and construction.
"Amjad Aref, a professor at University of Buffalo's Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, said a suspended bridge is typically built gradually, with the center tower or towers erected early".
At a news conference Friday night, officials from the National Transportation Safety Board said they have just begun their investigation, and can not yet say whether any cracking contributed to the collapse.
A review of OSHA records, meanwhile, shows MCM has been fined for 11 safety violations in the past five years totaling more than $50,000 after complaints involving its Florida work sites.
NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said at the press conference Friday evening that "I don't think we know at this point, factually, that there was a crack in the bridge", and "we have not confirmed that".
More victims may be buried in debris.
On Saturday, crews worked to extract the first two crushed vehicles from underneath the collapsed span. Two of those heavily-trapped cars were removed this morning and crews are working to remove two more now, officials said.
But the employee was out of the office and it was not heard until Friday, a day after the collapse.
On Thursday, emergency services had been racing to find survivors in the rubble using hi-tech listening devices, sniffer dogs and search cameras. Workers covered the vehicles in black sheeting and towed them to the medical examiner to identify the remains of any victims inside.
FDOT also noted that the university, FIU, bore the responsibility for the bridge's construction.
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The bridge collapses Thursday afternoon, killing six people. A friend traveling with Duran tried to pull her out but he couldn't.
"They just inspected the work to make sure the work was performed in accordance with the plans and specifications", he said.
Jorge and Carol Fraga also feared their 60-year-old uncle Rolando Fraga was trapped beneath the bridge in his vehicle.
"We just want to get those bodies out of there so [families] can have their loved ones one last time", he said.
The first to be identified was an 18-year-old FIU student.
The bridge was scheduled to open to foot traffic in 2019, and was created to boost safety on busy 8th Street, where an 18-year-old FIU student was fatally struck by a vehicle in August. Federal contract data show that since 2013, MCM has been awarded about $130 million worth of contracts from the Army and Navy for construction, maintenance and fix projects.
Verrastro said these projects are constructed with "very specific sequencing" and phases.
At least one MCM project resulted in a lawsuit concerning safety. And, according to CNN, he cited in the voicemail that there were no safety concerns on the project near Florida International University.
Munilla Construction Management (MCM), which installed the bridge, said it was devastated by what happened, was cooperating with investigators, and doing everything it could to help.