Human chain formed to help after Pittsburgh bridge collapse

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A two-lane bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh early Friday, forcing rescuers to rappel nearly 150 feet (46 meters) while others formed a human chain to help rescue the occupants of a suspended bus.

The collapse came hours before President Joe Biden was due to visit the city to lobby for its $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes bridge maintenance.

The collapse caused minor injuries but no deaths, authorities said, who also said they were flying drones to make sure no one was under the collapsed sections.

Police reported that the span, on Forbes Avenue above Fern Hollow Creek in Frick Park, fell just before 7 a.m.

Sam Wasserman, spokesman for Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, said hours after the collapse authorities were assessing the scene and an urban search and rescue team was still scouring the area for other victims. possible.

He said most of the 10 people assessed for injuries were first responders checked for exhaustion or because of the cold, snowy weather. Three people were taken to hospital and none suffered serious injuries, Wasserman said.

Wasserman said the Port Authority’s two-piece stretch bus was on the bridge when it collapsed, along with a driver and at least one passenger who were both assessed by emergency medical responders.

City officials said the collapse caused a gas leak, but the gas has since been shut off.

At the site of the collapse, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman called it “just a horrible, surreal scene.”

“I hope this is a wake-up call for the nation that we need to make these infrastructure investments,” Fetterman said.

Associated Press photographer Gene Puskar said the scene was reminiscent of the aftermath of an earthquake. There was a large crack at the end where the bus was, he said. There was also an upside down car in front of the bus.

Authorities told motorists to avoid the area.

In a statement, the White House said Biden would continue with his planned trip to Pittsburgh.

“Our team is in contact with state and local officials on the ground as they continue to gather information about the cause of the collapse,” the statement said. “The President is grateful to the first responders who rushed to help the drivers who were on the bridge at the time.”

The steel span, which was built in 1970, carries about 14,500 vehicles per day, according to a 2005 estimate.

Wasserman said the most recent inspection took place in September, but the report was not immediately available.

But a September 2019 inspection of the city-owned bridge found the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory. A spreadsheet on the State Department of Transportation’s website listed the bridge’s overall condition as poor, which the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says means “deterioration of major structural elements has progressed “.

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Associated Pres writers Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania contributed to this report.

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