People Rescued From Bus by Human Chain After Pittsburgh Bridge Collapses

After a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh Friday morning, first responders rappelled down almost 150 feet and others formed a human chain to help rescue people from a dangling bus.

Five vehicles and a Port Authority bus were on the two-lane commuter bridge at the time of the collapse, a city of Pittsburgh press release said. It added that there are 10 reported injuries, all non-life-threatening. UPMC Presbyterian hospital in suburban Oakland told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it received three adult patients who are in "fair condition."

The collapse happened just hours before President Joe Biden was scheduled to visit Pittsburgh to promote his $1 trillion infrastructure law, which includes funding for bridge maintenance.

The press release said first responders were among the injured, as they were working in icy conditions. Rescue operations finished by 8:30 a.m.

"First responders worked quickly and effectively together, sharing resources and information," acting Public Safety Director Lee Schmidt said in the release. "Their diligence ensured everyone on the bridge was safe."

The collapse's cause is under investigation. City officials told the Post-Gazette the bridge was last inspected in September but had been listed in poor condition from 2011 to 2017, according to the National Bridge Inventory.

The Port Authority bus was stuck on a slab of the remaining bridge structure. Adam Brandolph, a Port Authority spokesman, told Newsweek only three people were on the bus, including the driver, and all were able to get out without injury.

"We are extremely thankful that no major injuries have been reported and grateful for the first responders who helped rescue the Port Authority operator and two passengers on board," Brandolph said.

The collapse ruptured gas lines along the bridge, prompting some people in the area to be evacuated from their homes, according to the release. Shortly afterward, the gas was shut off and the residents were cleared to come back.

Melissa Bakth, who lives nearby, told the Post-Gazette she heard a crash and the subsequent breaking of the natural gas line just before 7 a.m., describing it as a "boom, then a monster sound."

"It was so loud, and it didn't stop," she added.

Wendy Stroh, another nearby resident, told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA it "sounded like a huge snowplow...pushing along the surface with no snow."

The Post-Gazette said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey was at the collapse scene Friday morning.

"I am thankful for the quick response and dedication of the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department, and for the cooperation and assistance of the county, state, and federal governments," Gainey said in the press release.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki posted a statement on Twitter saying Biden is aware of the collapse and is in touch with state and local officials as they get more information on what happened. He will proceed with his trip as planned, the statement said.

President to visit Pittsburgh, regardless of bridge collapse.

"[The president] is grateful to the first responders who rushed to assist the drivers who were on the bridge at the time," Psaki wrote.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bridge collapse
Five vehicles and a Pittsburgh Port Authority bus were on a two-lane commuter bridge that collapsed Friday morning. Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo