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5 dead as Mississippi River bridge falls amid rush hour in Minneapolis

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5 dead as Mississippi River bridge falls amid rush hour in Minneapolis

AUGUST 1, 2007

CNN

 

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At least five people were killed when an interstate bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed Wednesday evening, in what the governor called a "catastrophe of historic proportions."

 

The accident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) when up to 100 cars were on the bridge.

 

Witnesses described a "dust cloud" as it collapsed, sending cars and and chunks of concrete plunging into the Mississippi River below.

 

There were "lots" of injuries, the state Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department said. Local hospitals put the number of people hurt at about 37 so far. See photos of the disaster »

 

All survivors have been taken off the bridge, said Minneapolis police Chief Tim Dolan during a news conference Wednesday night. Crews have searched 50 cars and are looking for more possible victims.

 

We have confirmed that this will be a very tragic night when it is over," said Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak.

 

Mark Lacroix, who lives on the 20th floor of an apartment building near the bridge, told CNN he saw the last seconds of the collapse.

 

"I heard this massive rumbling and shaking basically and looked out my window," Lacroix said. "It just fell right into the river."

 

Another witness was walking on a pedestrian bridge nearby when he saw the disaster.

 

"There were several cars completely just crushed. ... I saw some policeman walk up to the drivers' windows and look and and kept walking on by, so either the person was deceased or not in the car," Joe Costello said.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it saw no indications of terrorism in the incident.

 

Construction took place on the bridge Tuesday night and was to take place again Wednesday night, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The highway would have been restricted to a single lane in both directions from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. both nights.

 

The bridge was undergoing redecking work, but nothing structural was being done, U.S. Transportation Department spokesman Brian Turmail said.

 

There were eight construction workers on the bridge at the time of the collapse, and one of them is unaccounted for, said Mike McGray, president of Progressive Contractors, the company doing the repair work on the bridge.

 

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minnesota, told CNN that Gov. Tim Pawlenty had told him the 40-year-old bridge was inspected and "given a clean bill of health" three years ago.

 

The nearby University of Minnesota Medical Center received "just a handful" of injuries from the accident, spokesman Ryan Davenport said.

 

"One of our hospitals has five patients so far, and the other on the other side of the river has none," he said.

 

Nancy Ebert of Northwestern Hospital said it had received four injured people -- two children and two adults.

 

Dr. Joseph Clinton, chief of emergency medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center, said the hospital is treating 28 injured people, six of them critically hurt.

 

He also said the hospital received one patient who was pronounced dead on arrival. "We have one drowning victim here, and I believe there are more drowning victims at the scene," he said.

 

Witnesses told CNN a school bus filled with children was on the bridge when it collapsed, but they also said the bus did not drop into the water and it appeared that all the children had been evacuated.

 

Jeff Pearson, regional vice president of First Student, Inc. -- which handles school buses in Minneapolis -- said that about 60 children, plus teachers, chaperones and a driver, were on the bus and that all were accounted for.

 

Aerial footage showed the middle of the bridge caved in, lying in the Mississippi River, with cars both on top and submerged in the water. The main part of the collapsed span was not submerged, but the span clearly separated from the land-based sections of the highway on both the north and south ends of the bridge.

 

A witness said it looked like "toy cars" were plunging into the water.

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What a terrible tragedy. Thank the lord for them children on that bus for making it out of there alive. They need to find out what caused this horrific catastrophe.

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Well, the NTSB said they'd go into a complete investigation. And If I'm correct, they lowered the death count to four. (According to a news report I just saw)

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Four is better than nine. The fact is that this is still a terrible thing to happen. May god bless them all.

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Well, the NTSB said they'd go into a complete investigation. And If I'm correct, they lowered the death count to four. (According to a news report I just saw)

 

Sorry to say but the death count is likely to rise again. We'll see what happens.

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Sorry to say but the death count is likely to rise again. We'll see what happens.

 

Indeed, I doubt it will remain that low.

 

This is indeed a horrible tragedy, and, lets hope it was an accident. I know they ruled out terrorism, but I hope they don't find out that it could have been preventable.

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Sad day in Minnesota. Couldn't it have been worse with all lanes of traffic open. I heard there was only one lane open or more.

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Indeed, I doubt it will remain that low.

 

This is indeed a horrible tragedy, and, lets hope it was an accident. I know they ruled out terrorism, but I hope they don't find out that it could have been preventable.

Well, actually, they are saying this could've been preventable....

 

But lets wait til they finish the investigation.

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