A strong smell of natural gas permeated the area after the snow-covered roadway collapsed, but there were no fatalities or life-threatening injuries, US authorities say.

The incident took place hours ahead of the president's visit that is expected to tout US economic growth and infrastructure spending.
The incident took place hours ahead of the president's visit that is expected to tout US economic growth and infrastructure spending. (AP)

A Pittsburgh bridge has collapsed before US President Joe Biden's arrival in the former steel city to highlight his efforts to strengthen infrastructure and supply chains and revitalise US manufacturing.

Authorities reported that a snow-covered bridge collapsed into a wooded gully at about 6am on Friday.

A strong smell of natural gas permeated the area, Pittsburgh Public Safety said in a Twitter message. No fatalities or life-threatening injuries were reported.

Ten people sustained injuries, all of them minor, according to authorities, who said the gas leak that was reported in the area was brought under control.

A photo posted on social media by KDKA television showed several vehicles piled in the rubble of the collapsed roadway. At least one vehicle, which appeared to be a bus, was dangling at the edge of part of the bridge. 

"It sounded like a snow plow," a witness told KDKA, calling the timing on the day of Biden's visit "an amazing coincidence".

The collapsed bridge, near Pittsburgh's Frick Park, was inspected last September, Mayor Ed Gainey told reporters.

READ MORE: Biden touts 'enormous progress' in first year despite pandemic

Economy in focus 

Biden was told of the bridge collapse and will proceed with his trip as planned, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. The White House is in touch with state and local officials about the collapse, she added.

The dramatic event — which produced no fatalities, but prompted rescuers to form a human chain to help retrieve multiple people from the dangling bus — offers Biden a striking example of what he often says is the urgent need for investments in the country's infrastructure.

In Pittsburgh, the Democratic president will tour Mill 19, a former steel mill building now serving as a research and development hub, before hailing the US economy's strong recovery from the pandemic, the White House said.

"The president will talk about the remarkable economic progress we’ve made over his first year in office — including the fastest single year of job growth in American history, the biggest unemployment drop on record and, as we learned on Thursday, the fastest economic growth in 2021 in almost four decades," a White House official said.

Biden, whose approval ratings have fallen in recent months amid a surge in the Covid-19 pandemic and high inflation, got a boost on Thursday when the Commerce Department reported the US economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021 — the fastest in nearly four decades. 

Biden, returning to the site of his first campaign event in 2019, will tout the creation of 367,000 manufacturing jobs since he took office one year ago, and passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill — a rare bipartisan victory in a deeply divided US Congress.

The president also plans to talk about his push to rebuild American competitiveness and beat China in a race to dominate the global economy, the official said.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies