Sunday, August 12, 2007

Divers return to bridge collapse site

By MARTIGA LOHN - Associated Press Writer - Sun. Aug. 12, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS - Divers were back searching the Mississippi River on Sunday for the remains of five people missing in the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, while cranes removed more vehicles from the ends of the fallen span.

Navy divers were out of the water for about 12 hours because of a thunderstorm, said Navy spokesman Dave Nagle. Storms made their task more dangerous over the weekend, strengthening river currents on Saturday after an overnight storm dropped as much as 2 inches of rain on the region.

A contractor took away 44 cars over the weekend, out of roughly 100 on the bridge when it fell on Aug. 1, said Kevin Gutknecht, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Most vehicles on the bridge's north end were gone; Gutknecht said work would focus on the south end for the next day or two.

Broken glass remained on a slanted section on the bridge's north end as pedestrians and cyclists peered through a mesh fence put up to keep them from getting too close.

So far, removal crews have cleared cars from parts of the bridge that fell onto land. They have equipment positioned to start major debris removal once the recovery efforts are finished.

The confirmed death toll from the bridge collapse stands at eight after divers recovered three bodies on Thursday and Friday.

About 100 people were injured in the collapse, but only eight remained hospitalized, their conditions ranging from serious to good.
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