ROLLING UPDATES BELOW.
The status has change as of this morning from a rescue operation to a recovery operation, which means they do not believe there will be any more survivors.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Divers searched the Mississippi River for bodies Thursday among the submerged cars and twisted steel left by deadly interstate bridge collapse, their hopes of finding survivors having dimmed.
"This is not a rescue operation any longer," said Chief Jim Clack of the Minneapolis Fire Department. "It's a recovery operation, which means we move slower and more deliberately."
Authorities lowered the death toll to four, but warned the final number could change as divers comb the wreckage for as many as 30 people still missing.
Police Lt. Amelia Huffman said: "This morning, the medical examiner's office only has four sets of remains." Initial reports of seven people killed were based on the best estimates authorities had Wednesday night, she said.
Our sympathies to the families.
Back to the Star Tribune, they are saying the Bridge was "structurally deficient" back in 2005"
(Continued below the advertisement>
The highway bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River on Wednesday was rated as "structurally deficient" two years ago and possibly in need of replacement.
That rating was contained in the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Bridge Inventory database.
Jeanne Aamodt, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the department was aware of the 2005 assessment of the bridge. "We've seen it, and we are very familiar with it," she said.
Aamodt said the department plans its bridge repairs using information from the Bridge Inventory database.
Many other bridges nationwide carry the same designation that the I-35W bridge received, Aamodt said.
WCCO.com reports that all similar engineered bridges will have to be inspected.
WCCO) Minneapolis As divers worked Thursday to begin the process of checking cars submerged in the Mississippi River after a bridge collapsed Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he has ordered an immediate inspection of all Minnesota bridges similar to the one that collapsed in Minneapolis.
Pawlenty said he did not know how many bridges have that design.
According to Minneapolis Police Lt. Amelia Huffman, four people were killed when the Interstate 35W bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed into the river around 6:05 p.m. Wednesday.
The eight-lane bridge was in the midst of repairs when the bridge buckled, sending people, cars and hundreds of tons of concrete plunging more than 60 feet into the river. At least 79 people were injured and Minneapolis Police said another 20 to 30 people are still missing.
"This is going to take a long time," Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said Thursday morning. Crews searching in the river and through the debris will do so slowly and safely, Dolan reiterated, adding the number of dead will change throughout the day.
A dive team is planning to get in the water Thursday, after teams of NTSB engineers declare the area safe to work in. Getting cars out of the wreckage will involve moving around very large, heavy pieces of bridge.
Doctors at Hennepin County Medical Center said their hospital received 24 patients relating to the bridge collapse Wednesday night. Of those people, 1 died, 5 are in critical condition, 10 are in satisfactory condition and 8 were treated and released. HCMC treated five children and all are in stable condition.
Doctors said the person who died had chest injuries consistent with falling 64 feet in a vehicle. That person was one of the first transported from the scene and died at HCMC.
North Memorial Medical Center treated a total of nine patients, four or five of which were children. Seven people were treated and released. Two adults were admitted to NMMC and are in serious condition.
Minneapolis Fire Chief Jim Clack said the death toll could rise. He said officials could see at least 50 vehicles in the water.
"We think there are several more vehicles in the river we can't see yet," he said, adding that the likelihood of finding survivors was slim. At 1 a.m. Thursday, crews called off the search for victims, saying it wasn't safe to work though the night because of darkness, river currents and debris in the river, including concrete and rebar wire.
The bridge collapsed during rush hour, at 6:05 p.m. "There were two lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, at the point of the collapse," Huffman said. "Those cars did go into the river."
A Tastee bread semi truck caught on fire on the collapsed bridge. Fire crews had to run hoses for several blocks to try to put out the fire.
The bridge crushed a train that was traveling under the bridge at the time of the collapse. Freeway signs also fell during the collapse, smashing cars.
Several hundred people climbed to the top of the hill in nearby Gold Medal Park, which offered a partially blocked view of the collapsed bridge. A few cried, while others stood in circles and prayed.
On the bridge, some people got out of their cars and went to help others. Several people helped 60 children escape a school bus that was caught in the wreckage. Several people from a nearby apartment building got to the collapse site before emergency personnel.
Firefighters swam car to car to look for survivors in the Mississippi River Wednesday evening. Clack said a lot of spaces around the collapsed bridge are hard to get into. Structural engineers will tell rescuers when it is safe to go into those area.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek said he took a brief pass over the scene from the air and it was worse than he thought. Crews will be back out at daybreak and will assess then where to go with recovery efforts.
"Obviously, this is a catastrophe of historic proportions for Minnesota," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "And right now we are focused on making sure that we are doing everything to respond to the needs of those individuals that may have been harmed in this incident."
Pawlenty said the collapse was likely structural in nature and said it was not an act of terrorism.
The bridge was undergoing repair work when it collapsed. Of the eight lanes on the roadway, four were closed for repair to the 40-year-old bridge's deck, joints, guardrails and lights.
"None of it would be related to the structure," said Bob McFarlin, assistant to Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Carol Molnau.
Tom Sloan, head of the bridge division for Progressive Contractors Inc. said his company had 18 workers on the bridge at the time of the collapse and one was unaccounted for on Wednesday night. Three were hospitalized, while several others were treated for minor injuries, he said.
Pawlenty said the bridge was inspected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2005 and 2006 and that no structural problems were noted. "There were some minor things that needed attention," he said.
U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman said federal transportation officials said the bridge was last inspected in 2004. Members of a National Transportation and Safety Board highway investigation team are heading to Minneapolis.
The bridge was scheduled for inspection this fall.
Civil engineer Richard Stehly said bridges are checked every three years, at minimum. He said investigators will look at the position of the debris and will take samples of the steel and concrete to try to find the cause of the collapse.
Another Star Tribune article says that investigators are looking into two possible causes for the collapse, vibrations and fatigue cracking.
Investigators looking into the cause of the Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge collapse are likely to focus on two primary causes -- vibration and fatigue cracking, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said in an interview early Thursday morning.Buzz on this can be found at memeorandum.
Jim Burnett said they should look at whether vibration from the construction work contributed to the collapse, or whether a train that was under the bridge at the time may have been moving, contributing vibration to the bridge.
"Vibration is one of things that cause cracking to propagate," he said. "They will be looking at that."
Burnett, who is in town for a Republican National Committee meeting, was watching the scene at 5 a.m. with other onlookers at the University Avenue SE. northbound entrance.
He also said he was intrigued by a 2001 University of Minnesota study that found signs of "fatigue cracking" in the bridge supports, though he noted that a later report apparently concluded that the bridge was in no immediate danger and did not need major repairs.
"I think that decision is going to come under new scrutiny," he said.
[Update] Police are saying more victims trapped in cars under water and that the death toll will rise.
Captain's Quarters reports on Bush's impromptu appearance and his statement.
President Bush made an obviously impromptu appearance just now to make a statement about the bridge collapse. He promised a "robust" federal response, not just in the recovery and investigation, but also in rebuilding the bridge. He didn't spend much time talking about details, other than to say that the Secretary of Transportation has flown to Minneapolis to ensure the best possible coordination with state officials already on the ground.[Update] We knew the "Blame Bush Brigade" would rear its irrelevant head. The blame Bush, completely ignoring that it is the job of Congress to appropriate funds for bridges and such.. laughable in their Bush Derangement Syndrome. (Via Say Anything)
No, I’m not kidding. Here’s a paraphrase of what he said:
...the only reason Bush is talking about fatalities is because he didn’t give MN enough money to maintain the bridge.
Right, Ed. Because it’s the President, and not Congress, who appropriates highway funds for roads and bridges.
What’s more, have we really departed so far from our federalist roots that we’re now blaming the President of the United States for not properly maintaining a bridge in Minneapolis (if that is indeed why the bridge went down)? What about local city officials? County road inspectors? State highway department people? The governor?
But hey, I guess this is what you get from a paid mouthpiece for the Democrat party.
I will continue to bring updates to this thread as they come out and we hear more.. keep checking back.