Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Moment of Respect for Those Lost in Minneapolis Tonight...Major Bridge Plunges into Mississippi River

(MSNBC) MINNEAPOLIS - The entire span of an interstate bridge suddenly broke into huge sections and collapsed into the Mississippi River during evening bumper-to-bumper traffic Wednesday, sending vehicles, tons of concrete and twisted metal crashing into the water.
Kristi Rollwagen, the deputy director of emergency preparedness for the city, said seven people had died in the incident.
Police Chief Tim Dolan said all survivors who were on the bridge are now off. "We've accounted for all the construction workers except for one," he said.
Hours after the collapse, Mayor R.T. Rybak said rescue workers had searched 50 cars.
"Obviously this is a catastrophe of historic proportions," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
The Interstate 35W bridge, a major link between Minneapolis and St. Paul, was in the midst of being repaired when it collapsed. Repairs involved guard rail replacement on the joints and concrete work, Pawlenty said.
"There were two lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, at the point of the collapse. Those cars did go into the river," said Minneapolis Police Lt. Amelia Huffman. "At this point there is nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a structural collapse."
At least 58 individuals — 10 of them children — were injured, said officials from the Red Cross and the Hennepin County Medical Center. Six individuals being treated were in critical condition, Dr. Joseph Clinton said.
NBC News reported that every Minneapolis ambulance had been requested to the scene.
A freight train was passing under the bridge when it collapsed and was cut in two, WCCO television reported.
Police set up flood lights so rescue officials can work throughout the night.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation told local media that 200,000 cars a day use the bridge.
The bridge, built in 1967, was last inspected in 2006 and had no major structural defects or deficits, Pawlenty said. "We were told the deck would have to be replaced in 2020."
'It shook the ground'A burning truck and a school bus clung to one slanted slab after the collapse.
The school bus reportedly had just crossed the bridge before the bridge crumpled into pieces, and local broadcast reports indicated the children, none of whom were injured, exited out the back door of the bus.
MSNBC Reports...
The weather for rescue teams tonight looks reasonable with a few thunderstorms grazing the northern part of the city. After these storms pass, it should be a quiet night for those aiding in the rescue effort.
This is a very big story and I want to extend my gratitude and respect to those who have lost their lives tonight in Minneapolis.

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