The Millau viaduct is part of the new E11 expressway connecting Paris and Barcelona and features < /I>
the highest bridge piers ever constructed. The tallest is 240 meters (787 feet) high and the  
overall height will be an impressive 336 meters (1102 feet), making this the highest bridge in the world.





The first firefighters to arrive at the rescue
was from engine house 11 - engine 11


Nostradamus - C5:Q31

Par terre Attique chef de la sapience,
Qui de present est la rose du monde:
Pour ruiné, & sa grande preeminence
Sera subdite & naufrage des ondes.

Through the Attic land fountain of wisdom,
At present the rose of the world:
The bridge ruined, and its great pre-eminence
Will be subjected, a wreck amidst the waves.



Aug 1, 2007 7:21 pm US/Central

I-35 West Bridge Collapses Into Mississippi River

I-35- West is the darker yellow bridge in the center of this map

Latest death toll - 13-  100+ injured 
Most victims found under the bridge wreckage itself.





Other cars remain stranded on the other sections of the bridge. Picture: CNN screengrab from KARE TV


"I was pretty much freaking out and sitting in the car with my foot as hard as it could go on the brake," Melissa Hughes, who was on the bridge with her three-month-old, told Fox News


Picture #1 - shows the collapse in action.  Picture #2 A collapsed portion of the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River is seen Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007, in Minneapolis. Picture #3 - jumbled car on the broken bridge
Picture #1 taken from a video. Others -(AP Photo/Star Tribune, David Denney)



This video frame grab taken from KMSP television shows the scene of a freeway bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007. The entire span of the 35W bridge collapsed about 6:05 p.m. where the freeway crosses the river near University Avenue.

Slideshow: I-35W Bridge Collapse

A reader in Minneapolis claimed a safety report last year said beams on the bridge were cracked. Picture: AP


This still from US TV breaking news shows a burning semi-trailer at the scene of a freeway bridge collapse.



A schoolbus, eight cars and a truck were sent crashing into the river. A witness has said up to 20 cars may have been caught up in the collapse. Picture: Sky News screen grab

Others are reporting 100 cars were involved.


Twisted metal was left exposed after the collapse, which occurred during the evening rush hour. Picture: AP screengrab of KMSP TV



People immediately began dragging survivors from the scene and trying to douse the flames spewing from the truck / Picture: Sky News screengrab of KMSP TV

There is a schoolbus on the right that had
8 to 12 yr old kids on it.

There are fears that vehicles may be trapped or crushed under the collapsed steel and concrete. Picture: AP screengrab of KMSP TV



There are fears more sections of the bridge will collapse. Callers to emergency services have reported that there are many people still in the water. Picture: AP screengrab of KMSP TV


It was initially reported that there were scores of people injured. Emergency crews were on the scene within minutes. Picture: AP/Pioneer Press


City officials search the area after the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Eric Brandt)
Divers search for victims near the Interstate 35W bridge which collapsed over the Mississippi River on Wednesday in Minneapolis, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)


Who do we pray for first?

(WCCO) Minneapolis All four lanes of the Interstate 35W Mississippi River bridge near University Avenue has collapsed into the river and onto businesses underneath the highway.

There are multiple cars in the river and a couple cars on fire. According to one witness, there was a school bus full of children on the bridge.

Cars are still on the bridge.

There was no immediate word on injuries, but dozens of rescue vehicles were there. Divers were also in the water.

Tons of concrete have collapsed and people are injured. Survivors are being carried up the riverbank.

Some people are stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.

A tractor-trailer is on fire at the collapse scene.

"I thought it was just construction going on ... it was a free fall all the way to the ground," said one person who was on the bridge at the time. "Thank God I was wearing my seat belt. The only thing I was hit was the steering wheel."

According to that same witness it was bumper to bumper traffic when the bridge collapsed.

Some cars are still precariously perched on the bridge. Sections of the bridge are mangled, some are pointing up in the air and some are in the river.

"My truck got completely torn in half," said Gary Bavanaugh, who was on the bridge when it collapsed. "The bridge started shaking and it went down fast."

Bavanaugh said he was headed northbound on I-35W when he heard a huge rumbling and he saw a huge cloud of white dust as the bridge collapsed. He had his seatbelt on and said if he hadn't, his head would have gone through the windshield.

Bavanaugh said a school bus full of children was ahead of him. He got on the bus and helped children, who he estimated to be 8-12 years old, off the bus and off the bridge.

"It is just horrific," said witness Marilyn Franzen, who saw the bridge collapse. Franzen said she saw a school bus that managed to stop before the going over the edge of the bridge that she said was carrying 20-30 children.

According to witnesses, cars are crushed and mangled under the bridge where it collapsed onto the shore of the river. Street signs also crushed cars.

People are being sent to Hennepin County Medical Center which is very close to the scene of the collapse.

The bridge was opened in 1967 and crosses the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

A maintenance project began about nine months ago repairing potholes and other concrete on the bridge. According to a spokesperson from the Mn-DOT, there was no work on the actual structure under the bridge.

Stay tuned to and WCCO-TV for more information on this breaking news story.

Bridge Collapses Into Miss. River  
Aug 1 08:20 PM US/Eastern
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Then entire span of a four-lane interstate bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during evening rush hour Wednesday, sending vehicles, tons of concrete and twisted metal crashing into the water.

The Interstate 35W bridge, which spans between Minneapolis and St. Paul, was under construction when it broke into several huge sections. Dozens of vehicles were scattered and stacked on top of each other amid the rumble.

A burning semi-truck and a school bus clung to one slanted slab, while an unknown number of vehicles were submerged.

Some people were stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.

Local television stations captured video of injured people being carried up the riverbank. There was no official word on injuries, but dozens of rescue vehicles were there. Divers were also in the water.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Then entire span of a four-lane interstate bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during evening rush hour Wednesday, sending vehicles, tons of concrete and twisted metal crashing into the water.

The Interstate 35W bridge, which spans between Minneapolis and St. Paul, was under construction when it broke into several huge sections. Dozens of vehicles were scattered and stacked on top of each other amid the rumble.

A burning semi-truck and a school bus clung to one slanted slab, while an unknown number of vehicles were submerged.

Some people were stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.

Local television stations captured video of injured people being carried up the riverbank. There was no official word on injuries, but dozens of rescue vehicles were there. Divers were also in the water.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Bridge Collapses In Downtown Minneapolis

August 1, 2007

Minneapolis, Minnesota - A major bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed this afternoon, dumping at least eight cars and a truck into the water and land below.
The center of the Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge collapsed about 6:05 p.m. with nearly 100 cars on it during rush hour.

A tractor-trailer caught fire, and flame and black smoke billowed into the sky. Local television stations captured video of injured people being carried up the riverbank. There was no immediate word on injuries, but dozens of rescue vehicles were there. Divers were also in the water.

Cars and people were stranded on parts of the bridge that weren't completely submerged and some vehicles were on fire.

Workers have been repairing the bridge surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the Interstate.

Rescue workers were helping some people from cars in the river.

Witnesses at the scene said the entire bridge collapsed, leaving part of the roadway submerged and part above water.

A number of people were walking around on the roadway that was not submerged.

"It is just horrific," said witness Marilyn Franzen, who saw the bridge collapse. Franzen said she saw a school bus that managed to stop before the going over the edge of the bridge that she said was carrying 20-30 children.

It was not clear how many people might be hurt or killed. NBC News reported that every Minneapolis ambulance has been requested to the scene.

© AlaskaReport News

August 2, 2007 - 10:51AM

At least three people are dead after a massive freeway bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River near Minneapolis in the US.

Rescue officials told CNN there could be up to 50 to 100 cars in the river.

The bridge, the 35W four-lane state highway which connects the University of Minnesota with downtown Minneapolis, collapsed about 6.05pm, during the evening rush hour.

Tons of concrete have collapsed and people are injured. Survivors are being carried up the riverbank.

Some people are stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.

Over the past several months the bridge was being repaired, with workers closing a lane or two at a time.

'I heard a huge roar'

Eyewitnesses said they heard a rumbling sound as the bridge collapsed into the river. Local media reported 20 to 30 injuries.

"First I heard this huge roar," Leone Carstens, a nearby resident, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I was at my computer. Initially I thought, 'Wow was that an airplane?'"

Television pictures showed sections of highway leading to the bridge had also collapsed, in places crushing cars and starting fires and trucks.

One witness said she saw people swimming in the water seeking safety.
Huge chunks of the bridge stuck at odd angles out of the river, in places surrounded by cars half submerged in the water.

A nursing supervisor at Hennepin county medical center interviewed by local WCCO radio said: "We have multiple patients. Some critical, some non-critical," he said. Asked if there were any deaths, he said: "Not that I know of."

Truck sliced in half

The road was carrying bumper to bumper traffic when the  500-foot (160 metre) steel arch bridge collapsed. The bridge, built in 1967, was 64 feet above the river.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation told local media that 200,000 cars a day use the bridge.

Local media said a school bus taking children back to the city from a field trip was among the vehicles that were involved.

Aerial footage of the collapse shows cars and other vehicles strewn across the collapsed bridge.

At least three sections of the bridge have collapsed into the river and a fourth section was in danger of collapse

Cars hung over the edge of the collapsed bridge, trucks were cut in two or on fire and other vehicles lay precariously on collapsed sections of the structure.

Paramedics have set up a triage clinic near the scene and at least 20 people have been taken to local hospitals.

There is no reason to think the collapse of a freeway bridge in Minneapolis was terror-related, the Department of Homeland Security said.


Jano Gibson, Dylan Welch and wires
August 2, 2007 - 12:07PM
Do you know more? Message 0424 SMS SMH (+61 424 767 764) or email us with information or images.

Six people have been confirmed dead in the collapse of a bridge over the Mississippi River in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota Mayor R.T. Rybak says.

"We have confirmed six deaths and we are continuing the search," Mr Rybak said at a press conference.

"At this point, we have searched approximately 50 cars ... we have confirmed that this will be a very tragic night when it is over."

Huge chunks of the bridge stuck at odd angles out of the river, in places surrounded by cars half submerged in the water.

The road was carrying bumper-to-bumper traffic when the 160-metre steel arch bridge collapsed. The bridge, built in 1967, was about 20 metres above the river.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation told local media that  200,000 cars a day use the bridge.

A truck driver told the Star Tribune he was driving about 16kmh in bumper-to-bumper traffic when the roadway fell away in front of him.

"I fell probably about 30 or 40 feet, landed on the [inaudible] of the Mississippi. I'm so lucky to be alive," the unnamed man said.

"On the way down I thought I was dead. I literally thought I was dead. My truck was completely face down, was pointing towards the ground, falling towards the ground.

"My truck ripped in half. When I got out of my truck it was folded in half.  I can't believe I am alive."

He said his seatbelt was the reason he was alive.

"I had my seatbelt on and if I didn't I probably would have went through the windshield. I only have a cut on my face from the steering wheel.

"I saw a tanker go head first into the water. There was only about five feet at the back end showing out of the water."

He said he helped carry young children and teenagers who had been in a school bus off the bridge.

According to CNN, a police officer told a witness that he had seen at least seven people dead at the scene. Rescue officials told CNN there could be up to 50 to 100 cars in the river.

Joseph Clinton, a doctor from Hennepin County Medical Centre told a press conference that his hospital had admitted 29 people as a result of the bridge collapse.

"We're telling people who were in the waiting room that if they weren't critically injured to come back later," he said.

One person admitted had died, believed to be from drowning, he said.

Twenty-two others were seriously injured and a further six were critically injured, he said.

Tonnes of concrete on the bridge have collapsed. Survivors were seen being carried up the riverbank.

The US Department of Homeland Security in Washington said there was no indication of terrorism in the disaster.

"There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time," department spokesman Russ Knocke said.

The entire span of the 35W bridge collapsed about 6.05pm [US time] where the freeway crosses the river near University Avenue.

Some people were stranded on parts of the bridge that were not completely in the water.

A large truck was on fire at the collapse scene.

Earlier, local reports said at least 20 cars had gone into the water from the crowded peak hour traffic.

Eyewitness accounts

"I saw them carrying up a body - I don't know if he was alive or dead,'' said Andy Schwich, who arrived at the scene on his bicycle a few minutes after the collapse.

A truck was exploding in fireballs, he said, and there were numerous cars either on the remnants of the bridge or in the river.

"It was the worst thing I ever saw," Mr Schwich, 29, said.

The Star Tribune quoted a witness, Ramon Houge, saying he heard a rumbling sound as he was driving across the bridge.

He saw the ground collapse and cars go down.

Other cars backed up as best they could, he said.

He was able to park in a construction zone and eventually drive off the bridge.

"It didn't seem like it was real," he told the paper.

He said he saw children on a bus with blood on their faces.

A nearby resident added: "First I heard this huge roar. I was at my computer. Initially I thought, Wow was that an airplane?''

Television pictures showed sections of highway leading to the bridge had also collapsed, in places crushing cars and starting fires.

One witness said she saw people swimming in the water seeking safety.

Local media said a school bus taking children back to the city from a field trip was among the vehicles that were involved.

Witnesses told Fox News the bridge started shaking and went down fast.

At least three sections of the bridge had collapsed into the river and a fourth section was in danger of collapse, reports said.

Photographs taken from an apartment overlooking the bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota shown on CNN showed a disastrous scene of people crouching on bent and crumpled concrete with parts of the bridge submerged in the brown river.

Rescue workers scrambled into the river gorge to help people off the huge chunks of concrete roadway as fire and smoke rose from the wreckage, the Star Tribune reported.

Bridge undergoing repairs

According to reports, the 40-year-old bridge was undergoing repairs at the time of the accident, and there were reports that construction workers were using a jackhammer at the time of the collapse.

Reports say that the bridge was inspected three years ago and given a clean bill of health.

Sarah Fahnhorst, who lives in an apartment a block away from the bridge, heard a huge thud and then "the entire building shook. It shook the ground''.

Gregory Wernick snr drove over the bridge shortly before the collapse.

He stopped to get a drink nearby and heard commotion so he went back.

"I figure I crossed about 10 minutes before it happened," he said. "That's just too close to call."

He was standing about 60 metres away on top of a parking ramp with a large group of people.

"I've never seen anything like this," he said.

- with agencies

Survivors Recount Escape From Bridge
08.01.07, 11:07 PM ET


Some dropped with the collapsing bridge into the waters of the Mississippi River and swam to safety, while others leaped from their cars over yawning gaps of asphalt to solid ground.

Survivors and witnesses cried and hugged each other as rescue crews tried to save who they could and gauge the scope of the catastrophic collapse of the eight-lane bridge. At least six people died.

Dennis Winegar of Houston, Texas, said he felt the Interstate 35W bridge start to shake. "I slammed on my brakes and saw something in front of me disappear and then my car pointed straight down and we fell." He estimated they dropped about 50 feet.

"I just reacted, put my foot on the brakes and started praying we didn't flip over," he said. "When I got out ... there was a car lodged underneath me and one right next to me."

His wife, Jamie Winegar, said everyone around them got out of their cars and tried to help each other off the bridge. "There were a bunch of people right around there helping everyone. Angels is what I call them."

Peter Siddons was on his commute home north when he heard "crunching" and saw the bridge start to roll and then crumple, he told the Star Tribune. "It kept collapsing, down, down, down until it got to me."

His car dropped with the bridge but stopped when his car rolled into the car in front of him. He got out of his car, jumped over the crevice between the highway lanes and crawled up the steeply tilted section of broken bridge and jumped to the ground.

"I thought I was dead," said the senior vice president at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. "Honestly, I honestly did. I thought it was over."

Caught on the span was a school bus filled with children on their way back from a day of swimming, said Ryan Watkins, one of the children. He said the bus bounced twice and stopped, its front door wedged against a concrete traffic barrier. They fled through the rear door.

A truck driver from Georgia, Charles Flowers, saw the collapse from banks of the river. Instantly, the water was filled with floating cars and people - injured, dazed - asking for help, he said.

He and several others ran down the riverbank and he pulled a woman from the water. He said he thought she did not survive. "I never thought I'd see anything like this," he told the newspaper.

Catherine Yankelevich survived the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, Calif., and was on the I-35W bridge when it began to shake. "Cars started flying and I was falling and saw the water," she said. Her car wound up in the river so she climbed out the driver's side window and swam to shore uninjured.

"It seemed like a movie, it was pretty scary," said Yankelevich. "I never expected anything like this to happen here."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Survivors, rescuers reflect on catastrophe
August 1, 2007
By Kevin Giles and Richard Meryhew
(Minneapolis) Star Tribune


It looked as though an earthquake had hit.

From across the Twin Cities and from small towns beyond, rescue workers, doctors, nurses and construction workers flooded into downtown Minneapolis early tonight, making their way past Twins fans at the Metrodome, past thousands of gawkers aiming their cell phone cameras at the crumpled steel frame and a bridge deck sliced into three pieces.

At 6:45 p.m. local time, more than a half-hour after disaster struck, police yelled at the onlookers to get back, off the north section of the bridge where rescue workers below searched for survivors. They feared that section could still collapse on them.

Rescue crews from North St. Paul, Vadnais Heights and Maplewood blared their sirens, creeping through the crowd of onlookers. But once inside the ring of pandemonium, this catastrophe became an orderly scene of grim determination and efficiency.

Ambulances queued up, police escorting them one-by-one down into the bridge area. The rescue teams had rehearsed for this kind of catastrophe. There was little shouting, no chaos. A state command center was quickly opened to coordinate the rescue.

“It looked like a terrorist attack, a complete catastrophe,” said impromptu rescuer Ryan Murphey, 30, of Minneapolis. “But everyone there was very calm and organized.”

Water cannons shot streams at smoldering vehicles. The walking wounded, necks in braces, were guided off the bridge and out of the area.

Overhead and across the river valley, the sound of television helicopters and sirens cut through the hot breeze. Rescue workers gingerly crept onto the bridge, peering over cracked bridge sections looking for survivors in the cars and trucks half-submerged in the gray water of the Mississippi rippling against this unexpected obstacle to its path south.

To the west, an ominous sky dropped cloud-to-ground lightning and dime-size hail, threatening to make the already horrific rescue scene even more dangerous for workers

Across the Twin Cities, stunned families stared at their televisions. Frantic calls to relatives driving home in the tail-end of rush hour added to the crush of emergency calls and cell phone circuits jammed.

Melissa Hughes of Minneapolis was the driver of one of six cars under the north end of the bridge.

“It seemed like people and things were in the air that weren’t supposed to be there,” she said.

Four drivers and a 12-year-old boy were huddled nearby, their cars in the water where they had slid as the north end collapsed.

Boats pulled by emergency vehicles moved in quickly. Nearby, a bridge immediately east of the collapsed bridge was filled with emergency vehicles. A crane was on one section of the bridge, too, attempting to remove concrete barriers.

In office buildings on the riverbank near the University of Minnesota, office workers felt the collapsed and rushed to their windows.

“I thought an airplane flew too low over our building. It just shook,” said Danielle Behling of St. Paul. University students ran to the river.

Stephanie Bakkum was making dinner when she heard a “huge explosion.” She and some friends rushed to the site just as survivors began crawling up from the collapsed freeway section.

Within seconds, another loud explosion shook the ground as a tanker blew up.

As emergency crews worked, shaken bystanders stared. Many said they had driven across the bridge minutes before it collapsed.

One was Ken Savage, who drove an empty dump truck across the bridge half an hour before it collapsed. He said every time he drove across the bridge, with all the construction going on, he wondered what would happen if he was loaded with topsoil.

Joe Hughes, 18, of Lake Elmo was helping someone move nearby when he heard the noise. He and a friend, Jared Powers, 18, of Mahtomedi ran to the bridge to help carry stretchers. They saw crushed cars, a burning school bus and cars floating in the water.

He said the people they carried out were mostly silent or unconscious, except for the last man.

“He wanted to call his fiancee,” said Hughes.

(c) 2007, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Hopes Dim in Minneapolis for Survivors

ug 2, 9:01 AM (ET)

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.

The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of being repaired and two lanes in each direction were closed when the bridge buckled during evening rush hour Wednesday, sending dozens of cars plummeting more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River.

Authorities were checking license numbers of the cars in the water. Getting the vehicles out of the water will involve moving around very large, heavy pieces of bridge.

"The bridge is still shifting," said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. "We're dealing with the Mississippi River. We're dealing with currents. We're going to have to do it slowly and safely."

Relatives of some of the missing gathered in a hotel ballroom early Thursday, waiting for word on loved ones who couldn't be located.

"I've never wanted to see my brother so much in my life," said Kristi Foster, who went to an information center set up at a Holiday Inn looking for her brother Kirk. She hadn't had contact with her brother or his girlfriend, Krystle Webb, since the previous night.

More than 60 people were injured and as many as 50 vehicles were in the river, many of their occupants having scrambled to shore. The collapse did not appear to be terrorism-related.

Some injured people were carried up the riverbank, while emergency workers tended to others on the ground and some jumped into the water to look for survivors. Fire and black smoke rose from the wreckage.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said the bridge was inspected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2005 and 2006 and that no immediate structural problems were noted. "There were some minor things that needed attention," he said.

"They notified us from an engineering standpoint the deck might need to be rehabilitated or replaced in 2020 or beyond," Pawlenty said Wednesday.

The 40-year-old bridge was rated as "structurally deficient" two years ago and possibly in need of replacement, the Star Tribune reported. The newspaper said that rating was contained in the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Bridge Inventory database.

"We've seen it, and we are very familiar with it," Jeanne Aamodt, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said of the 2005 assessment of the bridge.

Aamodt noted that many other bridges around the country carry the same designation that the I-35W bridge received. She declined to say what the agency was going to do to address the deficiencies found in 2005.

Road crews were working on the bridge's joints, guardrails and lights this week, with lane closures overnight on Tuesday and Wednesday. The bridge was fitted in 2001 with a computerized anti-icing system that sprayed chemicals on the surface during winter weather, according to documents posted on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Web site.

There were 18 construction workers on the bridge at the time of the collapse, said Tom Sloan, head of the bridge division for Progressive Contractors Inc., in St. Michael. One of the workers was unaccounted for.

Sloan said his crew was placing concrete finish on the bridge for what he called a routine resurfacing project. "It was the final item on this phase of the project. Suddenly the bridge gave way," he said.

Sloan said his workers described a horrific scene. "They said they basically rode the bridge down to the water. They were sliding into cars and cars were sliding into them," he said.

The entire span of Interstate 35W crumpled into the river below. Some injured people were carried up the riverbank, while emergency workers tended to others on the ground.

A school bus had crossed the bridge before it collapsed. The bus did not go into the water, and broadcast reports indicated the children on the bus exited out the back door.

Christine Swift's 10-year-old daughter, Kaleigh, was on the bus, returning from a field trip to Bunker Hills in Blaine. She said her daughter called her about 6:10 p.m.

"She was screaming, 'The bridge collapsed,'" Swift said. All the kids got off the bus safely, but about 10 of the children were injured, officials said.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said he spoke with Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, and that both of them along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will be flying to the Twin Cities early Thursday.

The collapsed bridge stood just blocks from the heart of Minneapolis, near tourist attractions like the new Guthrie Theater and the Stone Arch Bridge. As the steamy night progressed massive crowds of onlookers circulated in the area on foot or bicycle, some of them wearing Twins T-shirts and caps after departing Wednesday night's game at the nearby Metrodome early.

Thursday's game between the Twins and Kansas City Royals was called off, but the Twins decided to go ahead with Wednesday's rather than sending about 25,000 fans back out onto the congested highways. Inside the stadium, there was a moment of silence to honor victims.

The steel-arched bridge, which was built in 1967, rose about 64 feet above the river and stretched about 1,900 feet across the water. The bridge was built with a single 458-foot-long steel arch to avoid putting any piers in the water that might interfere with river navigation.

The river's depth at the bridge was not immediately available, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a channel depth of at least 9 feet in the Upper Mississippi from Minneapolis southward to allow for barge and other river traffic. The site is just downstream from the St. Anthony Falls locks and dams.


Associated Press Writers Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon contributed to this report from Minneapolis; Martiga Lohn contributed to this report from St. Paul.


++ MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- As many as 50 vehicles are trapped in the rubble of an interstate bridge collapse, and officials said Thursday it could take five days or longer to search the wreckage.

Four people were confirmed dead, and officials said at least 79 people were injured when the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during the Wednesday evening rush-hour in Minneapolis.

Twenty to 30 people were missing, Minneapolis police Chief Tim Dolan said Thursday. Thirty to 50 cars remain in the river, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The water below the collapsed bridge is about 7 to 8 feet deep -- just covering the roofs of the dozens of cars that remain in the water, Dolan said.

The eight-lane bridge fell 60 feet, about six stories, into the river.

"This is going to take a long time, this recovery," Dolan said.

Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said conditions in the Mississippi River were treacherous, as the twisted steel and blocks of pavement were pushed around by river currents. He said the search could go on for five days or longer.

The Hennepin County medical examiner on Thursday morning said the confirmed death toll was four, lower than the seven to nine deaths reported earlier.

But Dolan said there were more bodies to be recovered.

"We have a number of vehicles that are underneath big pieces of concrete, and we do know we have some people in those vehicles," The Associated Press quoted Dolan as saying. "We know we do have more casualties at the scene."

President Bush on Thursday pledged federal aid to rebuild the bridge.

Security camera video showed the Interstate 35W bridge's center section collapsing into the river in less than four seconds. The northern end of the span appeared to drop first and the southern end followed.

CNN obtained the video from a source who asked to remain unidentified because they were not authorized to distribute it publicly. Video Watch bridge collapse video »

Gary Babineau was driving his truck across the bridge as it fell.

"I could see the whole bridge as it was going down and as I was falling, and it just gave a rumble real quick, and it all just gave way, and it just fell completely all the way to the ground," Babineau said.  See photos of the disaster »

"This particular section or freeway was under repair," Minneapolis fire Chief Jim Clack said. "We don't know yet what caused the collapse. We do not believe at this point there was any terrorism or nefarious activity -- it was just a structural collapse."

A federal investigative team has been dispatched to the scene.

A school bus filled with more than 50 children who were returning from a summer field trip was among the vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed.

Kristy Jenkins credits staff member Jeremy Hernandez with saving her 12-year-old daughter, Nina Jenkins.

Hernandez "busted open the backdoor of the bus" and "told everyone to get out from the back of the door," the girl said. "We jumped on the highway and then jumped on the sidewalk."

"If it would have been a second later, any second before we would have been in the water or under the pavement," he said.

Tony Wagner, the president of a local nonprofit social services group that organized the trip, said eight of the kids, ages 5 to 14, were hospitalized.

More Information

How you can help: American Red Cross

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 ... and looked out my window," Lacroix said. "It just fell right into the river." Video Watch Lacroix describe the collapse »

According to the Minneapolis Riverfront District Web site, the steel arch bridge was opened in 1967. Its longest span stretches 458 feet over the river, and it was constructed with no mid-river piers to facilitate river traffic.

The bridge was undergoing nonstructural re-decking work, 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.

A 2001 study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation found "several fatigue problems" in the bridge's approach spans and "poor fatigue details" on the main truss.

The study suggested that the design of bridge's main truss could cause a collapse if one of two support planes were to become cracked, although it allowed that a collapse might not occur in that event. But, the study concluded, "fatigue cracking of the deck truss is not likely" and "replacement of the bridge ... may be deferred."

Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Bridge Inventory database said the bridge was "structurally deficient."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune quoted Jeanne Aamodt, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, as saying the department was aware of the 2005 assessment of the bridge.

The bridge received a rating of 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. A bridge receives a rating of 4 when there is "advanced section loss, deterioration."

About 100,000 cars a day travel over the bridge, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved

Police: More Victims in Submerged Cars

Aug 2 11:21 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writers

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Divers searched the Mississippi River on Thursday for more bodies entombed in cars trapped beneath the twisted steel and concrete slabs of a collapsed bridge. As many as 30 people were missing as the effort shifted from rescue to recovery.

The official death count stood at four Thursday morning, but Police Chief Tim Dolan said more victims were still in the water. Hospital officials counted 79 others injured.

"We have a number of vehicles that are underneath big pieces of concrete, and we do know we have some people in those vehicles," Dolan said. "We know we do have more casualties at the scene."

The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of repairs when the bridge buckled during the evening rush hour Wednesday. Dozens of cars plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River, some falling on top one of another. A school bus sat on the angled concrete.

Under water, divers were taking down license plate numbers for authorities to track down the vehicles' owners. Getting the vehicles out was expected to take several days and involve moving around very large, heavy pieces of bridge.

"The bridge is still shifting," Dolan said. "We're dealing with the Mississippi River. We're dealing with currents. We're going to have to do it slowly and safely."

He said police estimate that 20 to 30 people were unaccounted for, though he stressed that it was just an estimate.

At Hennepin County Medical Center, patients had arrived in a steady stream after the collapse, some unconscious or moaning, some barely breathing, others with serious head and back injuries, Dr. William Heegaard said.

"There was blood everywhere," he said.

Relatives who couldn't find their loved ones at hospitals gathered in a hotel ballroom Thursday morning for any news, hoping for the best.

"I've never wanted to see my brother so much in my life," said Kristi Foster, who went to an information center set up at a Holiday Inn looking for her brother Kirk. She hadn't had contact with her brother or his girlfriend, Krystle Webb, since the previous night.

Authorities initially said at least seven people had died, but Police Lt. Amelia Huffman lowered that number Thursday morning, saying, "The medical examiner's office only has four sets of remains." She said the initial reports were based on the best estimates authorities had Wednesday night.

As many as 50 vehicles tumbled into the river when the bridge collapsed, leaving those who could escape to scramble to shore. Some carried the injured up the riverbank, while emergency workers tended to others on the ground and some jumped into the water to look for survivors. Fire and black smoke rose from the wreckage.

The Homeland Security Department said the collapse did not appear to be terrorism-related, but Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek said Thursday that the cause was still unknown.

"All indications are that it was a collapse, not an act of someone doing it," Stanek said.

He said at least a dozen submerged vehicles were visible in the water. A train had been passing beneath the roadway at the time and it also fell, including a car carrying a chemical, polystyrene beads, that the fire chief said was not particularly hazardous.

Thursday morning, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced a $5 million grant to help pay for rerouting traffic patterns around the disaster site.

"We fully understand what happened and we will take every step possible to ensure something like this will not happen again," Peters said. The White House said first lady Laura Bush would travel to the city on Friday to console the victims' families.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said up to $100 million in federal funds will be available for rebuilding and recovery.

"A bridge in America just shouldn't fall down," Klobuchar said. "That's why we have called for this investigation."

The bridge had been inspected by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2005 and 2006 and no immediate structural problems were noted, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Wednesday. A federal database, however, showed the 40-year-old bridge had been rated as "structurally deficient" in 2005 and possibly in need of replacement, the Star Tribune reported citing the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Bridge Inventory.

The White House also confirmed the 2005 inspection. White House press secretary Tony Snow said the span rated 50 on a scale of 120 for structural stability.

"This doesn't mean there was a risk of failure, but if an inspection report identifies deficiencies, the state is responsible for taking corrective actions," he said.

Jeanne Aamodt, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said her agency was aware of the 2005 assessment. She noted that many other bridges around the country carry the same designation and declined to say what the agency had done to address the deficiencies.

The bridge was fitted in 2001 with a computerized anti-icing system that sprayed chemicals on the surface during winter weather, according to documents posted on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Web site.

This week, road crews had been working on the bridge's joints, guardrails and lights, with lane closures overnight on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There were 18 construction workers on the bridge at the time of the collapse, said Tom Sloan, head of the bridge division for Progressive Contractors Inc., in St. Michael. One of the workers was unaccounted for.

Sloan said his crew was placing concrete finish on the bridge for what he called a routine resurfacing project. "It was the final item on this phase of the project. Suddenly the bridge gave way," he said.

"They said they basically rode the bridge down to the water. They were sliding into cars and cars were sliding into them," he said.

The school bus had just crossed the bridge when the entire span of Interstate 35W crumpled into the river below. The bus stayed on concrete, and the children were able to escape unharmed out the back door.

Christine Swift's 10-year-old daughter, Kaleigh, was on the bus, returning from a field trip to Bunker Hills in Blaine. She said her daughter called her about 6:10 p.m.

"She was screaming, 'The bridge collapsed,'" Swift said. All the kids got off the bus safely, but about 10 of the children were injured, officials said.

The collapsed bridge is just blocks from the heart of Minneapolis, near tourist attractions like the new Guthrie Theater and the Stone Arch Bridge. As the steamy night progressed massive crowds of onlookers circulated in the area on foot or bicycle, some of them wearing Twins T-shirts and caps after departing Wednesday night's game at the nearby Metrodome early.

Thursday's game between the Twins and Kansas City Royals was called off, but the Twins decided to go ahead with Wednesday's rather than sending about 25,000 fans back out onto the congested highways. Inside the stadium, there was a moment of silence to honor victims.

The steel-arched bridge, built in 1967, rose 64 feet above the river and stretched 1,900 feet across the water. It was built with a single 458-foot-long steel arch to avoid the need for piers that might interfere with river navigation.

The river's depth at the bridge was not immediately available, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a channel depth of at least 9 feet in the Upper Mississippi to allow for barge traffic.


Associated Press Writers Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon contributed to this report from Minneapolis; Martiga Lohn contributed to this report from St. Paul.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Death toll expected to rise at Minneapolis bridge

Thu Aug 2, 2007 3:19PM EDT
By Todd Melby

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Rescuers pulled more bodies from the swirling brown waters of the Mississippi River on Thursday in what authorities said would be a slow and dangerous recovery operation after the worst U.S. bridge collapse in more than 20 years.

Two boats circled slowly near the tangle of steel girders and concrete while divers searched for more victims killed when the 40-year-old bridge in the Midwestern U.S. city of Minneapolis buckled during Wednesday evening rush hour.

Four people were confirmed dead and authorities said the toll was certain to rise.

There was no immediate explanation for why the 500-foot (150-metre) span collapsed.

"A bridge in America just shouldn't fall down," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat of Minnesota.

More than 50 vehicles tumbled 65 feet into the river and onto debris from Interstate 35W as the bridge collapsed into a plume of dust, smoke and screams.

At least 60 people were hurt, with broken bones, head, neck and spinal injuries.

Federal authorities quickly ruled out terrorism as a cause, but state and federal safety officials said the bridge's inspection record did not indicate it was unsafe.

Specifically, the collapse raised questions about work being done to the bridge's deck, lighting and guardrails at the time of the collapse. 

"What caused this unbelievable, almost incomprehensible tragedy?" added Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. "We need to understand that to make sure that this type of tragedy never happens ever again."

Dolan said several more bodies were recovered on Thursday but he did not provide a new death toll.

"People were pinned. People were partly crushed, talking to rescue workers ... telling them to tell their families goodbye" before they died, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said.

"It is still a tremendously dangerous scene," he said.


People watched the recovery operation from grassy banks and the steps of a riverfront theater.

"It was chaotic," said tow truck driver Mike Euhl, who helped rescuers find their way down into the river as victims scrambled to escape half-submerged vehicles.

"These are horrible images but within each of those images is a story," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said. "That car you see tangled in the wreckage is someone's cousin, brother or husband. ... Thank God this wasn't worse."

City officials said the search effort and subsequent clean-up would take several days.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said investigators planned to rebuild the bridge piece by piece off-site to try to reconstruct what happened.

The bridge had passed inspections the past two years, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said, though it was among thousands of bridges across the country deemed to be "structurally deficient" in a 2005 U.S. government report.

"(The rating) was by no means an indication that the bridge was not safe," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said at the scene. "None of those ratings indicated there was some kind of danger here."

She said it was the first time a bridge collapsed without an outside trigger, such as an earthquake or collision, since 1983, when three people were killed in Connecticut after a bridge collapse on Interstate-95, the major U.S. East Coast highway.

The administration pledged $5 million for initial clean-up efforts.

"We in the federal government must respond and respond robustly to help the people there not only recover but to make sure that lifeline of activity, that bridge, gets rebuilt as quickly as possible," President George W. Bush said in a statement.

More than a dozen construction workers were beginning their shift at the time of the collapse. One worker from Progressive Contractors Inc. was among the missing and was feared dead, said the Minnesota company's owner, Michael McGray.

"But we don't give up hope," McGray said.

(Additional reporting by Benno Groeneveld in Minneapolis, David Morgan and Doina Chiacu in Washington and Carey Gillam in Kansas City)

Divers Look for Bridge Collapse Victims
Aug 2, 6:05 PM (ET)



MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Divers searched the Mississippi River for bodies still trapped beneath the twisted debris of a collapsed bridge Thursday, as finger-pointing began over a report two years ago that found the bridge was "structurally deficient."

The official death count from Wednesday evening's collapse stood at four, but Police Chief Tim Dolan said more bodies were in the water. Hospitals officials said 79 others were injured.

A strong current and low visibility hampered the search, and divers were pulled out of the water briefly Thursday afternoon so the water could be lowered, said Inspector Jeff Storms of the sheriff's department.

Twelve vehicles had been located in the river, officials said.

"We have a number of vehicles that are underneath big pieces of concrete, and we do know we have some people in those vehicles," Dolan said. "We know we do have more casualties at the scene."

The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of repairs when it buckled during the evening rush hour. Dozens of cars plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River, some falling on top one of another. A school bus sat on the angled concrete.

The bridge is the state's busiest, and carries approximately 141,000 vehicles per day.

The White House said an inspection of the 40-year-old bridge in 2005 found problems. The Interstate 35W span rated 50 on a scale of 100 for structural stability and was classified as "structurally deficient," transportation officials said.

The designation means some portions of the bridge needed to be scheduled for repair or replacement, and it was on a schedule for inspection every two years. "It didn't mean that the bridge is unsafe," Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said.

Earlier, at the White House, press secretary Tony Snow said while the inspection didn't indicate the bridge was at risk of failing, "If an inspection report identifies deficiencies, the state is responsible for taking corrective actions."

Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday ordered an immediate inspection of all bridges in the state with similar designs, but said the state was never warned that the bridge needed to be closed or immediately repaired. Another inspection was scheduled for completion in September.

"There was no call by anyone that we're aware of that said it should be immediately closed or immediately replaced," Pawlenty said. "It was more of a monitor, inspect, maintain, and potentially replace it in the future.

Around the country, a handful of states, including Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey and New Mexico, ordered inspections of their own bridges

In the river, divers took down license plate numbers for authorities to track down the vehicles' owners. Getting the vehicles out was expected to take several days and involve moving around very large, heavy pieces of bridge.

As many as 30 people were reported missing, and the rescue effort had shifted to recovery.

Relatives who couldn't find their loved ones at hospitals gathered in a hotel ballroom Thursday for any news, hoping for the best.

Ronald Engebretsen, 57, was searching for his wife, Sherry. His daughter last heard from her when she left work in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday. Her cell phone has picked up with voice mail ever since.

"We are left with the hope that there is a Jane Doe in a hospital somewhere that's her," Engebretsen said.

As many as 50 vehicles tumbled into the river when the bridge collapsed, leaving those who could escape to scramble to shore. Some survivors carried the injured up the riverbank, while emergency workers tended to others on the ground and some jumped into the water to look for survivors. Fire and black smoke rose from the wreckage.

"People who were pinned or partly crushed told emergency workers to say 'hello' or say 'goodbye' to their loved ones," Dolan said.

Aron Dahlgren, 23, a University of Minnesota graduate student, was driving to his girlfriend's home when the bridge began to fall. He noticed overhead road signs in front of him start to sink - and then his car plummeted.

"That's the longest two or three seconds of your life," Dahlgren said. "That was the scariest place. I kept on thinking - I kept on questioning, was this how I was going to die. If I'd have left 30 seconds earlier, I'd have been over the water."

Jay Reeves was one of the first people on the scene after the collapse. He tried calling 911, but all the lines were jammed. Then, he heard the sounds of children's screams from the school bus.

"I opened my car door and was greeted by the screams of lots of kids. Screaming kids are good. That means they're alive and full of a lot energy," said Reeves, 39, a trained paramedic and the public safety coordinator for the Minnesota American Red Cross.

The children were sent back to his office, where he spoke to them and tried to calm them down while their parents were located. One frantic boy told him that his shoulder hurt, he said.

"I took his head in my hands and said 'you need to calm down. Take a deep breath and hold it,'" Reeves said.

The Homeland Security Department said the collapse did not appear to be terrorism-related, but the cause was still unknown. Federal officials announced Thursday that $5 million would be rapidly released to help with efforts such as re-routing traffic around the disaster site.

The first step of the federal investigation will be to recover pieces of the bridge and reassemble them, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, to try and determine what happened, NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said.

Investigators also want to review video of the collapse, and were setting up a phone number for witnesses to call with information. A team of 19 people was coming to the scene to help with the investigation, he said.

"It is clearly much too early in the initial stages of this investigation to have any idea what happened," Rosenker said.

This week, road crews had been working on the bridge's joints, guardrails and lights, with lane closures overnight on Tuesday and Wednesday. In 2001, the bridge had been fitted with a computerized anti-icing system that sprayed chemicals on the surface during winter weather, according to documents posted on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Web site.

The bridge is blocks from the heart of Minneapolis, near tourist attractions such as the new Guthrie Theater and the Stone Arch Bridge. As the steamy night progressed massive crowds of onlookers circulated in the area on foot or bicycle, some of them wearing Twins T-shirts and caps after departing Wednesday night's game at the nearby Metrodome early.

The steel-arched bridge, built in 1967, rose 64 feet above the river and stretched 1,900 feet across the water. It was built with a single 458-foot-long steel arch to avoid the need for piers that might interfere with river navigation. The depth of the water underneath the bridge is between 4 to 14 feet, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The collapse was not expected to have a sizable impact on barge shipments of grain and freight. The stretch of the river is largely used by recreational boaters and seldom by shippers, who rely more on bigger locks south on the river, said Bill Gretten with the Army Corps of Engineers.


Associated Press Writers Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon contributed to this report from Minneapolis; Martiga Lohn contributed to this report from St. Paul, Jim Suhr contributed from St. Louis and Deborah Hastings and Erin McClam contributed to this report from New York.

(This version CORRECTS daily traffic load on bridge to 141,000.)

Faults in collapsed bridge 'found in 1990'


A BRIDGE that collapsed in the United States, killing at least five people, was deemed "structurally deficient" as long ago as 1990, it emerged yesterday.

Engineers warned that more than 70,000 bridges across the country - about 12 per cent of the total - were in the same condition.

Experts estimated repairing them all would take a generation and cost more than $188 billion (£92.7 billion). Authorities ordered 700 bridges of a similar design to the one that failed in Minneapolis to be inspected.

Five people have been confirmed dead and 79 injured when Interstate 35W bridge plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River during rush hour on Wednesday.

It had been feared a further 30 people were missing, but yesterday this was lowered to eight as divers continued to search the wreckage. It is not thought likely that there will be any other survivors.

As the US tried to come to terms with the disaster, a local newspaper reported that plans to shore the bridge up had been postponed pending other repairs and Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota's governor, said there had been "warning signs" of problems with the 40-year-old bridge. "There was a view that the bridge was ultimately and eventually going to need to be replaced," he said.

Mr Pawlenty insisted the state had not been warned that the bridge should be closed or immediately repaired.

He warned that the condition of all bridges in the US had to be investigated. "Anybody who looks at the national picture and says that we don't have a problem would be naive, or misreading the situation. We have a major problem," he said.

During the 1990s, inspections found fatigue cracks and corrosion in the steel bearings around the bridge's joints. These problems were repaired. Starting in 1993, the bridge was inspected annually instead of every other year.

Dan Dorgan, the state bridge engineer, said the bearings could not have been repaired without jacking up the entire deck of the bridge. Because the bearings were not sliding, inspectors concluded the corrosion was not a serious issue.

After a study raised concern about cracks, the state was given two alternatives: add steel plates to reinforce critical parts or conduct a thorough inspection of certain areas to see if there were additional cracks. They chose the inspection route, beginning that examination in May.

"We thought we had done all we could," Mr Dorgan said. "Obviously something went terribly wrong."

The collapsed bridge's last full inspection was completed on 15 June, 2006. The report shows previous inspectors' notations of fatigue cracks in the spans approaching the river, including one four feet long that was reinforced with bolted plates.

Officials identified the dead as Sherry Engebretsen, 60, Julia Blackhawk, 32, Patrick Holmes, 36, and Artemio Trinidad-Mena, 29, a Mexican citizen.

Ronald Engebretsen said he and his family were trying to come to grips with his wife's death. "She's a great person. She's a person of great conviction, great integrity, great honesty and great faith in her God," he said.

More bodies had been spotted in the fast-moving river currents, which were "even more treacherous" yesterday than a day earlier, Sheriff Rich Stanek said.

Among those still officially missing is Sadiya Sahal, 23, and her two-year-old daughter, Hanah Mohamed.

Mrs Sahal, who is five months pregnant, left home at 5:15pm with the child in the back seat. She called her family at 5:30pm, saying she was stuck in traffic on the bridge, according to Omar Jamal, a spokesman for the family. "Her husband is destroyed. He's in shock," Mr Jamal said.

This article:

Last updated: 04-Aug-07 01:57 BST

Minneapolis death toll stands at five

August 3, 2007

The Minneapolis fire chief says it is a miracle that only five people have so far been confirmed dead in the collapse of one of the city's main road bridges over the Mississippi River.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said outside experts would review the decisions of state engineers to delay certain repair work on the heavily traveled 40-year-old bridge, which crumpled during evening rush hour on Wednesday.

After a day in which divers tried to reach the bodies of more victims amid the smashed cars and blocks of concrete in the treacherous waters, Fire Chief Jim Clack said a fifth victim was found and more bodies were certain to be found.

"With that big a piece of the bridge falling in the river and the time of day, I thought it would be much worse," Clack said.

"Initially, when this happened, I was worried there would be dozens of fatalities, if not hundreds. It's quite a miracle really," he said.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said an official estimate of eight people still missing was "fluid" and subject to change. One person reported missing had turned up safe at work, he said.

Twenty-seven of the 98 people injured in the disaster remained in area hospitals, including five in critical condition and another five in serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Pawlenty said engineers had decided to periodically inspect the steel superstructure beneath the Interstate 35W bridge and bolt on reinforcing plates where any flaws were found.

But that work, which Pawlenty said fit in the state's budget, was postponed by resurfacing and repair work which was under way when the bridge buckled and fell.

"Experts that we rely on, technical experts and engineers, made some decisions about what needed to be done. They thought they were making an appropriate decision for their reasons, and now those decisions will have to be reviewed," Pawlenty said. A private engineering firm had been hired for the review.

"The bridge was declared fit for service," he said. "There will be tough questions asked, including by me, and we will get to the bottom of this."

In Washington, the US House of Representatives authorised $US250 million ($A290 million) for the initial reconstruction of the bridge and to reimburse local governments for the cost of extra buses and other efforts to alleviate traffic snarls. The Senate was also expected to approve the money.

Divers searched submerged cars that had tumbled 20 metres into the Mississippi. "This is very dangerous work because the divers can get caught in the debris, some of which is razor-sharp," Clack said.

Divers battled swift currents and had to feel their way in the muddy waters around twisted steel and chunks of concrete.

"You got gas in there, oil. Besides, the Mississippi River is not the cleanest place. You didn't have any visibility, you just felt," Minneapolis Fire Department diver Raoul Raymose told CBS.

The eight-lane span was a vital link over the Mississippi River and the most heavily used bridge in Minnesota with roughly 140,000 vehicles passing over each day.

"It is striking the bridge was carrying a load of traffic it was not designed for," said the Democratic Speaker of Minnesota's state House of Representatives Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Reconstruction estimates ranged as high as $500 million.

Visiting first lady Laura Bush praised the city's response: "We've seen the strength of your community, and because of that we're confident the bridge will be rebuilt and your city will heal."

President George W Bush is scheduled to tour the scene on Saturday.

© 2007

Minnesota to Start Debris Removal at Collapsed Bridge

by John Hughes

(Bloomberg) -- Minnesota officials today are resuming efforts to find victims of last week's bridge collapse in Minneapolis as they prepare to bring in heavy equipment to remove cars and debris from the Mississippi River.

The $15 million salvage effort starting this week will begin with removing cars from the fallen highway and continue with opening a 56-foot-wide (17-meter-wide) river channel for barge traffic, according to Michael Koob, a consultant for the state from Wiss, Janey Elstner Associates Inc.

The debris removal may help locate the eight people missing after the Aug. 1 collapse, said Bob McFarlin, assistant to state Transportation Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau. Five people have been confirmed dead.

``We will be focused on a recovery effort,'' McFarlin told reporters yesterday in Roseville, Minnesota. ``We will continue to have that focus until all who are missing are accounted for.''

President George W. Bush is expected to sign a bill to provide as much as $250 million for a new bridge, said Jim Berard, a spokesman for House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat. Congress approved the funding two days ago. Oberstar plans to travel to Minnesota this week to meet with state officials and inspect the site.

State and local officials held a memorial service for victims of the accident yesterday evening. The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing its investigation by examining whether a construction project under way on the span may have played a role in the worst bridge collapse in 25 years.

The board interviewed construction workers and gathered information on the placement and weight of equipment and materials, NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker told reporters yesterday.

`Moment of Failure'

``We need to have an accurate depiction of what the bridge was like at the exact moment of failure,'' Rosenker said. ``All of this data is critical.''

The collapse during evening rush hour prompted recommendations to examine 756 similar U.S. structures and a federal review of whether inspection requirements should be more stringent. The Interstate 35W bridge was Minnesota's busiest, linking downtown Minneapolis to its northern suburbs.

The NTSB has agreed to let state and local authorities start removing cars and debris, Rosenker told reporters. Those operations, involving four cranes and one or two barges, will begin later this week, said Terry Zoller, the state's project manager for the effort to move the wreckage.

``It's going to be a very slow, tedious process,'' Zoller said. ``We will take pieces out very methodically and place them on a barge so we can examine each one of those pieces.''

Salvage, Construction

The salvage effort will begin months of heavy-equipment work at the site. Once the debris is removed, the effort will shift to construction of a replacement bridge, McFarlin said. The state hopes to approve a contract in September for a replacement bridge that will last 100 years, he said.

The $250 million approved by Congress will finance the debris removal and bridge construction, McFarlin said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation underwater research and recovery teams are on their way to Minnesota to assist in the search for victims, Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek told reporters yesterday. Authorities are also seeking the help of U.S. Navy diving and salvage teams, Stanek said.

The construction project being examined by the NTSB began in June and was to be finished next month with replacement and repair of pavement, lights and guardrails. Work was being done toward the bridge's southern end when the span collapsed, Rosenker said.

The NTSB is also reviewing weather data starting in 1967 when the bridge was completed to determine whether temperature played a role in weakening the structure, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Hughes in Minneapolis at

Last Updated: August 6, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Recovery, Investigation Continues

No more victims were pulled from the wreckage of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse this weekend, although rescue officials believe there are more bodies to recover from the Mississippi River. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continued its investigation into the Minneapolis bridge collapse, amid reports that construction crews working on the Interstate 35W Bridge had felt the structure “wobble” for several days before the collapse.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, construction workers have said that in the days prior to the disaster, the Minneapolis Bridge had “wobbled” with every layer of concrete they moved. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) would not comment on the reports, saying that they would be part of the NTSB investigation into the Minneapolis bridge collapse. A spokesperson for MNDOT also said that the NTSB was seeking information on the number of lanes that the I-35W Bridge had when it opened in 1967, as well as the number of vehicles the bridge carried at that time.

The NTSB said over the weekend that investigation of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse could take as long as 18 months. The agency, which has 19 investigators assigned to the Minneapolis bridge collapse disaster, has concluded that the collapse did not originate on the south end of the I-35W Bridge, and they will look at the north side today. An NTSB investigator told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that investigators are being extremely cautious because the collapsed Minneapolis Bridge is continuing to weaken.

Those same conditions were making recovery efforts difficult at the site. Divers were expected to return to the river today to search for the missing, and the state has requested help from FBI and Navy dive teams. Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers lowered the level of the Mississippi River by two feet in an attempt to lessen the current. Today, crews will begin removing debris from the river. MNDOT has hired a contractor from St. Paul, Minnesota to handle debris removal. The cleanup is expected to cost at least $15 million.

Five people have been confirmed dead as a result of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse, and eight are still missing. On Saturday, families of the missing were brought to the site of the collapse for the first time. Sunday was a day of prayer and grieving in the Twin Cities, where about 1400 people attended an interfaith memorial service at St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral.

This morning, Minneapolis commuters attempted to make it into work without one of the city’s main corridors. The I-35W Bridge had carried 140,000 cars everyday. Commuters were encouraged to car pool and offered free bus rides. Meanwhile, MNDOT officials mulled over plans for replacing the collapsed Minneapolis Bridge. It is expected that replacement will cost in excess of $200 million. Late last week, Congress approved $250 million in emergency funds to help Minnesota with the cost of cleanup and bridge replacement. But MNDOT said that even with that money, the agency still faces a cash shortfall.

The I-35 W Bridge collapsed last Wednesday at the height of Minneapolis’ rush hour. Between 50 and 100 vehicles were on the bridge when it fell into the Mississippi River. Recent inspections of the Minneapolis Bridge had found it to be “structurally deficient”. The Minneapolis Bridge collapse is only the second time in 25 years that a highway bridge in the US collapsed without a cause like an earthquake or collision.

Navy, FBI divers join bridge search
PATRICK CONDON; The Associated Press
Published: August 8th, 2007 01:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS – An elite team of Navy divers joined the search Tuesday for victims of the Minneapolis interstate bridge collapse, bringing to the job lessons learned from such disasters as TWA Flight 800 and the loss of the space shuttle Columbia.

The team of 16 divers and a five-member command crew arrived a day earlier. Once their gear arrived before dawn Tuesday, several divers immediately entered the Mississippi River even though local officials encouraged them to wait until daybreak.

“Two in the morning, they dove into the water,” Minneapolis Police Capt. Mike Martin said, calling them “the best divers in the world.”

“These guys make our SWAT guys look humble,” Martin said.

Navy Senior Chief David Nagle said the divers wanted to get a feel for the area and were in the water for about two hours. Divers were back in the river by late morning, removing concrete rebar and other debris.

Also Tuesday, state officials laid out tentative plans for the bridge reconstruction, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty said his office was considering a victims’ compensation fund.

The dive team’s arrival raised hopes of speeding up the recovery operation. At least eight people are missing and presumed dead in last week’s collapse, with perhaps more still in the river. Five people are confirmed dead.

Joining the Navy team was an FBI dive crew, doing forensic work for the investigation. Their tools included a small unmanned submarine equipped with a robotic arm.

“It’s basically crime-lab-underwater kind of work,” Martin said.

The city also asked residents to observe a moment of silence at the minute the bridge fell six days earlier. Bells at churches and City Hall tolled immediately after.

Four people still hospitalized with injuries from the collapse improved to serious condition, leaving only one person in critical condition. About 100 people were hurt in the disaster.

hero rewarded with college funds

A man who helped evacuate a school bus full of children after the Minneapolis bridge collapse has a generous offer to consider.

Jeremy Hernandez, 20, dropped out of Dunwoody College of Technology because he couldn’t afford the $15,000 tuition. Now, he can finish his two-year automotive technician degree for free if he wants to come back, the school said Tuesday.

Hernandez, a gym coordinator for a Minneapolis community organization, was coming back from a water park with a group of 52 children, ages 5-14, when the bus dropped toward the Mississippi River gorge as the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed. Everyone on the bus got out safely.

Dunwoody President C. Ben Wright said the school created a fund that would pay for the education of people “who have done unselfish things trying to better society.” The fund was created in response to Hernandez’s efforts. Hernandez hasn’t yet said whether he’ll accept the school’s offer.

The Associated Press

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Metal Plates Examined in Bridge Collapse

The Associated Press
Thursday, August 9, 2007; 7:03 PM

MINNEAPOLIS -- The metal plates that held the girders together on a failed 1960s-era interstate bridge were originally attached with rivets, old technology that that is more likely to slip than the bolts used in bridges today.

Some of the plates, or gussets, also may have been weakened by welding work over the years, and some of them may have been too thin or too small, engineering experts said Thursday.

This photo made available by the Navy Visual News Service shows Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, 2nd left, as he tours the site of the I-35 bridge collapse over the Mississippi river with Department of Defense, federal, state, and local officials in Minneapolis, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007.
(AP Photo/Navy Visual News Service, Seaman Joshua Adam Nuzzo) (Seaman Joshua Adam Nuzzo - AP)

The National Transportation Safety Board, in a brief Wednesday advisory to states to check such plates in bridges nationwide, cited a "design issue" with the bridge's gussets. Engineers say that the plates are an obvious place to start looking, but that a number of other factors might have contributed to the Aug. 1 collapse that killed at least seven people, with at least six still missing.

And on Thursday, NTSB officials said "people have run maybe a little bit too far" with the statement on the gussets.

"Simply by finding a piece of metal that's been sheared or twisted doesn't necessarily mean it's a critical piece of the puzzle," said Bruce Magladry, director of the NTSB's Office of Highway Safety. "We see a lot of steel that's damaged because of the bridge collapse. What we need to ferret out is what's an initial cause of damage vs. what's a secondary cause."

Engineering experts said failure of the plates, which usually sandwich the bridge's steel beams where they intersect, in a critical spot could have brought down the whole bridge, although no one has pinpointed a gusset as the cause of the failure.

"What they'll be looking for is to see whether one of the gusset plates may have fractured," said W. Gene Corley, a forensic engineer with the Skokie, Ill.-based engineering firm CTL Group. "If one of those gusset plates breaks, then you have lost half the strength at that location, and most likely the other one can't carry the load then."

The bridge's builders in the mid-1960s riveted the plates together, which required many more holes than bolts would have. More holes weaken steel, said Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a professor of structural engineering at the University of California-Berkeley, who compared them to Swiss cheese.

The rivets also tend to slip more than bolts and can lead to more cracking, Corley said. Bolts are preferred in modern bridge construction, and were used in more recent repairs.

Welding work on some gussets _ at temperatures of 2,600 degrees or more _ could also have caused tiny cracks to form as superheated steel cooled, which may have developed fatigue cracks.

Astaneh-Asl reviewed 1965 construction drawings of the bridge that showed varying thicknesses of the gussets. Some in key spots over the Mississippi River were only a half-inch thick, he said, and his rough calculation of the pressure they could withstand suggested they were weaker than the beams they connected. A cracked gusset is visible in photographs taken after the collapse, he said, but it's unclear what role that might have played in the bridge's failure.

State transportation officials say damage seen on the bridge's gussets might have been caused by the collapse.

Various problems in the bridge may simply have added up over the years and created stresses that the designers never contemplated, Astaneh-Asl said. For instance, at least one expansion joint locked up, possibly pulling one of the bridge's piers out of alignment and leading to undetermined pressures on other parts of the bridge. Such things could have made fatigue cracks worse, he said.

Inspectors who completed the bridge's last full inspection in June 2006 noted problems _ "section loss, pitting, heavy flaking rust" _ on several of the plates. They also reported loose bolts on another gusset.

Corley, who has been invited to be part of a private investigation into the collapse, said he saw "lots of rust" on the gussets.

"It brings the issue of load and brings the issue of fatigue there as well as corrosion," he said.

But something could have gone wrong in design, too, Corley said. Each plate is individually designed, and someone could have miscalculated the load or weight-bearing capacity of an individual gusset plate, he said.

"In design there's always the chance for a blunder," Corley said. "One of the most common causes of collapse of any type of structure is the blunder."

Investigators are looking closely at the weight that was on the bridge when it fell.

Construction crews had piled up sand and gravel on the bridge as they prepared to pave a 520-foot stretch of two southbound lanes of the freeway, said Liz Benjamin, a construction engineer with MnDOT. Equipment on the bridge included a cement truck, a concrete mobile mixer, buggies to haul the concrete and personal vehicles of the workers. Workers also were using 45-pound jackhammers to remove the top layer of pavement.

The bridge was one of Minnesota's busiest, carrying 140,000 vehicles a day. Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington, said that's dramatically higher than designers would have considered in 1965.

The traffic would have contributed to fatigue over the years, Corley said. But the weight of truck and vehicle traffic is "pretty insignificant" next to the weight of the bridge itself, he said.___

Associated Press writers Patrick Condon in Minneapolis and Seth Borenstein in Washington contributed to this report.

2 Bodies Found in Minn. Bridge Wreckage
Thursday August 9, 2007 10:01 PM


Associated Press Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Searchers found two more bodies Thursday in the wreckage of the interstate bridge, bringing the death toll to seven with at least six missing more than a week after the bridge crumbled into the Mississippi River, authorities said.

Crews have been searching the site for the past week for eight people missing and presumed dead in the Aug. 1 collapse.

Dave Hayhoe, the police homicide unit commander, announced the recoveries ahead of a briefing on the investigation. He said the bodies were recovered by divers, but he gave no other information.

``Right now the first priority is notifying the families,'' Hayhoe said.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office said the first body was found shortly after noon and wasn't immediately identified.

Among the eight are a pregnant nursing student and her 2-year-old daughter, a construction worker nicknamed ``Jolly,'' and a former missionary who had been on his way to meet a friend for dinner.

As the recovery operation continued Thursday, so did the investigation into the cause of the collapse. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday they had found design flaws in the bridge's gusset plates, which help tie the steel beams together.

That discovery prompted Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to advise states to carefully consider any additional stress placed on bridges during construction projects. An 18-person crew had been working on the Interstate 35W span when it collapsed during the evening rush hour.

J. Richard Capka, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, said Thursday that the agency would quickly advise transportation agencies around the country of steps they should take if a systematic problem with gusset plates was found, though he said no such advisory was in the works.

``Gusset plates have been around a long time, and they've been a reliable feature, and we have no indication that they've ever been part of a suspect bridge problem or a bridge failure before,'' Capka said.

``They have not concluded that they've discovered anything specific that might have contributed to the collapse,'' he added.

State officials have announced tentative plans for a replacement bridge to be opened by the end of 2008. Gov. Tim Pawlenty also said he was willing to reverse his long-standing opposition to a state gas tax increase to pay for infrastructure improvements in the state.

President Bush on Thursday dismissed raising the federal gasoline tax to repair the nation's bridges, though - as proposed Wednesday by House Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar, D-Minn. - at least until Congress changes the way it spends highway money.

``The way it seems to have worked is that each member on that (Transportation) committee gets to set his or her own priorities first,'' Bush said. ``That's not the right way to prioritize the people's money. Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities.''

At the bridge site, recovery crews have removed several vehicles from the river in the last two days, and Navy divers have searched for possible victims in and around the others.

In all, 88 vehicles have been located, both in the river and amid the broken concrete wreckage of the bridge, according to the State Patrol.

NTSB investigators have been trying to pinpoint where on the bridge the collapse began. Observations from a helicopter camera Wednesday found several ``tensile fractures'' in the superstructure on the north side of the bridge, but nothing that appeared to show where the collapse began, the NTSB said.

Investigators were still working to verify the loads and stresses on the beams, as well as materials in the plates.

They also were looking into reports of wobbling before the collapse.

The company that was doing construction work at the site, Progressive Contractors Inc., rejected a report that a worker noticed unusual swaying of the bridge in the days before its collapse. The company said it didn't believe any of its work contributed to the bridge failure but hadn't responded directly to claims of wobbling.

``We have now met with every single worker who was on the bridge when it collapsed,'' Tom Sloan, vice president of the company's bridge division, said in a news release Wednesday. ``None of them observed or reported any unusual swaying.''

The eight people reported missing and feared dead in the bridge collapse have been identified as Christine Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake; Vera Peck, 50, and her son Richard Chit, 20, both of Bloomington; Greg Jolstad, 45, of Mora; Peter Hausmann, 47, of Rosemount; Sadiya Sahal, 23, of St. Paul, and her 2-year-old daughter, Hanah; and Scott Sathers, 29, of Maple Grove.


Associated Press writers Archie Ingersoll in Minneapolis and Frederic J. Frommer and Jennifer Loven in Washington contributed to this report.

August 11, 2007
8th body found in Minneapolis bridge collapse
MINNEAPOLIS -- Divers removed another body from the wreckage of a freeway bridge Friday, while the federal transportation secretary offered $50 million to help with recovery and rebuilding.

The known death toll from last week's collapse reached eight when Navy divers found a body about noon.

The latest victim was identified as Sadiya Sahal, 23, St. Paul. A body found Thursday was identified as that of her 2-year-old daughter, Hanah Sahal.
Those identifications reduce the list of known missing and presumed dead to five.
During her visit, Secretary Mary Peters stood near a fallen section of the bridge as she announced the latest emergency aid. The funds are an advance on $250 million approved by Congress but not yet appropriated.
The money comes on top of $5 million in federal emergency aid pledged right after the Aug. 1 bridge collapse and $5 million to help the public transit system handle the loss of the heavily traveled span.

Associated Press - August 12, 2007 11:03 PM ET

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The official death toll in the Minneapolis bridge collapse has risen to nine.

Divers found another body in the Mississippi River Sunday.

The county medical examiner's office has identified the remains as those of 20-year-old Richard Chit of St. Anthony. His mother is still missing.

The other three people known to be missing are 45-year-old Christine Sacorafas of White Bear Lake; 45-year-old Greg Jolstad of Mora; and 29-year-old Scott Sathers of Maple Grove.

About 100 people were injured in the collapse, but only eight remain hospitalized.

Today, a crane removed a school bus and other vehicles from one end of the ruined span. In all, 44 vehicles have been removed from the bridge since its collapse. About 100 vehicles had been on the structure when it fell.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Two More Victims Found in Minneapolis Bridge Wreckage

Search crews in Minneapolis have pulled out the tenth and eleventh bodies from the wreckage of the interstate bridge collapse.

The remains haven’t been publicly identified by officials

The first remains were found in a vehicle recovered on the night of Aug. 15, 2007, with the second set of remains found the morning of August 16.

A national Greek community group said one of those whose body was recovered had been driving to her church to teach a folk dancing class at the time the bridge fell.

Officials have released the identities of nine people killed in the August 1st collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge.

Before the latest recoveries, four people were listed as missing

Associated Press Writer
Aug. 20, 2007 08:27 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The remains of the last person missing after a bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River nearly three weeks ago have been found, authorities said Monday, bringing the official death toll to 13 and relief to the only family still awaiting word on a missing loved one.

Gregory Jolstad, nicknamed "Jolly," was on the construction crew that was resurfacing the bridge when it fell Aug. 1 during the evening rush hour. Jolstad, 45, was driving a skid loader, commonly known by the brand name Bobcat.

Divers had gone back in the water early Monday, and Jolstad's wife, Lisa Jolstad, has said officials had vowed to continue until they found her husband.

Greg Jolstad, 45, was one of 18 construction workers on the bridge working for Progressive Contractors Inc. The other 17 survived the collapse. Seven suffered injuries, but none critical.

Also Monday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty asked President Bush to declare the collapse a major disaster, which would make the state eligible for more federal money. The governor said the emergency response costs alone would be more than $8 million.

Bush was scheduled to be in Minneapolis on Tuesday and to get a briefing on the bridge.

Jolstad had worked for PCI for 10 years, often commuting 90 miles one way to road jobs in the Twin Cities from his home in the central Minnesota town of Mora.

Lisa and Greg Jolstad were married in 1995 and lived with Lisa's three teenage children from a previous marriage in a 97-year-old farmhouse north of town where Greg Jolstad grew up.

"Greg never wanted to venture far from home," Lisa Jolstad said.

Her worst fear since the collapse was that her husband would still be missing after all the other victims of the disaster had been found - and that's exactly what happened.

A tax assessor currently between jobs, Lisa Jolstad is living for now on her husband's paycheck, which PCI continued to issue, as well as paying for grief counselors for family members.

"Everyone at the company is just heartsick for Greg's family," said David Lillehaug, PCI's attorney.

Lisa Jolstad said earlier that she was trying to keep occupied by getting the farmhouse ready for winter.

"I sit home every night, and I just can't believe he's not coming home," she said. "I look out the back door window and it's weird not to see his truck out there. I look out the bathroom window at the sky and know he's up there, and I say, you know, why did you have to leave, Greg?"


Hundreds Feared Dead in Nepal
After Bridge Collapses

The Bridge Collapsed on Christmas Day,
Killing at Least 15 People

Bridges have given so much to Nepal's isolated villagers. But on Christmas Day, one bridge took
entire families away.

A 400-foot-long steel foot bridge over the Bheri River in Chunchu collapsed Tuesday afternoon,
killing at least 15 people and injuring hundreds. At least 70 people are still missing and presumed dead.

Hundreds of police officers, soldiers and locals are searching the river's icy waters for any survivors.
But the current is strong, and there is little hope of finding anyone alive. Some of the bodies were
found three miles downstream from the bridge.

"Most people did not know what happened. The bridge collapsed and most people on the crowded
bridge fell in the river," 20-year-old Durga Bika told The Associated Press from his hospital bed in
Katmandu. "The bridge was on top of me and my leg was caught. My friends pulled me out and
saved me."

Most of the victims were women and children. The youngest was only 5 years old.

"I heard a sound like a bomb explosion," 10-year-old Rabindra Buda told the Indo-Asian News
Service, after he had been pulled out of the river. "Then the bridge started swaying. I felt myself
falling and hit the water. You couldn't see the river anymore. It was full of human heads."

As many as 500 people were walking across the bridge toward a monthly, full-moon Hindu festival
when its steel cables gave way, plunging most of the bridge into the water about 100 feet below.

"We still don't know exactly how many people are missing so we have sent teams to nearby villages
to get information from families on whether they have not heard from their relatives," chief
government administrator Anil Pandey told the AP.

Nepal's villages are separated by mountains and the rivers that run through them. There is little
to no access to paved roads, so residents rely on their feet — and a relatively new network of
1,000 bridges throughout the country.

In all, at least 45 miles of bridges have helped to open villages up to the outside world in recent
years, reducing prices by giving farmers easier routes to deliver produce and saving lives by
making hospitals more accessible.

The bridge in Chunchu, about 310 miles west of Katmandu, was born out of peace.

It was built just last year after the government signed a cease-fire agreement with Maoist rebels,
who have waged a decade-long insurgency that devastated much of the country's infrastructure.
Rebels have destroyed bridges and roads in order to isolate government troops, but this time, the
 bridge fell because it was not designed to support the weight of so many people, authorities say.

It collapsed just one day after Nepal's government took a historic decision to abolish its monarchy.
Under the deal, agreed to by the rebels, Nepal will become a republic after a general election
scheduled for next year.

This afternoon the government released a statement promising an investigation into the incident.
It also promised to pay $400 to each of the victims' families.




Posted By: RayelansMailbag <Send E-Mail>
Date: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 5:50 a.m.

"Some interesting info regarding the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

I was watching BBC News24 at about 3am(GMT) this morning. Whilst covering the bridge collapse they had a witness on via telephone who spent a few minutes explaining how he walks under the bridge almost daily. He had witnessed the fact that large holes had been drilled/cut through the concrete supports.

This angle was covered for an hour or so on the news and they had this same guy on again later - however, this time whilst he was re-telling the same story there was a weird buzzing/pulsing sound and he was cut off mid-talk.

It is now 10.30am GMT and BBC News24 are no longer reporting this guys story - not only that but they are reporting that all rescue efforts were stopped after a couple of hours and that the police have cordonned off the bridge - since when do rescue efforts stop when it gets dark, esspecially whne there are supposed to be people in cars at the bottom of the river."

August 2, 2007

Massive ULF ‘Blast’ Detected In US Bridge Collapse Catastrophe

By: Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers

Reports from Russia’s Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics located in Irkutsk are reporting today that their Siberian Solar Radio Telescope (SSRT) detected a ‘massive’ ultra low frequency (ULF) ‘blast’ emanating from Latitude:  45° 00' North  Longitude:  93° 15' West at the ‘exact’ moment, and location, of a catastrophic collapse of a nearly 2,000 foot long bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

To the horrific destruction of the Interstate 35W Bridge which spanned the Mississippi River we can read as reported by the Star Tribune News Service:

"The 1,907-foot bridge fell into the Mississippi River and onto roadways below. The span was packed with rush hour traffic, and dozens of vehicles fell with the bridge leaving scores of dazed commuters scrambling for their lives.

Nine people were confirmed dead as of 4 a.m. today. Sixty were taken to hospitals and 20 people were still missing this morning. Authorities said they expected the death toll to rise."

Russian Military reports state that the total collapse of such a massive bridge, and in the absence of evidence linking its destruction to terrorist activity, could only have been accomplished by an acoustic weapon, of which the United States Military is known to possess.

These reports further state that one of the United States primary research organizations into acoustic weapons research is Augsburg College, and which is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and most importantly less than 1 mile from the Interstate 35W Bridge collapse. 

To the exact reason of why, and what exactly happened in this catastrophe we can only speculate, but, with what is known about the United States past history of using sophisticated weapons on their own citizens for ‘research’ purposes it certainly lies in the realm of possibility that this horrific tragedy is rooted in the use of ULF weapons.

To the past usage of these new types of weapons we can read even back into the 1980’s of the United States research into their use as reported by the CNN News Service:

 "Imagine the implications of a weapon with no visible trace -- a weapon that could knock out tanks, ships, and planes as fast as the speed of light. The same technology, with modifications, could disorient and even tranquilize military personnel, rendering them virtually helpless in the battle zone. These are the new weapons of war we will examine in this series.

For the past 40 years, the world has been riveted by the threat of nuclear war, and more recently by the prospect of space defenses using lasers and other modern technologies.

Lightning is the most dramatic form of energy to be found in nature. Scientists have succeeded in creating limited types of artificial lightning. And some think that these could be the forerunners of a new type of directed-energy weapon, part of a family of weapons that operate within the radio frequency segment of the electromagnetic spectrum, and are thus referred to as radio frequency weapons."

To the dangers of ULF weapons being used against civilians we can read the warnings of Dr. Rauni Leena Kilde, MD, the former Chief Medical Officer for Lapland (northern Finland), who warned in 1999:

"When the use of electromagnetic fields, extra-low (ELF) and ultra-low (ULF) frequencies and microwaves aimed deliberately at certain individuals, groups, and even the general population to cause diseases, disorientation, chaos and physical and emotional pain breaks into the awareness of the general population, a public outcry is inevitable."

To the exact reason of why the United States would be targeting Minneapolis with such a massive ULF ‘blast’ we can find in the exact neighborhoods that surround the Interstate 35W Bridge, and which are home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States, including over 30,000 Somalis who are outraged by the US sponsored invasion of their home Nation by Ethiopian forces.

For the American people as a whole, this catastrophe provides yet another example of the consequences of their allowing their Military Forces to gain total control over their economy and lives, and which history has long shown leads always towards total destruction.  

© August 2, 2007 EU and US all rights reserved.

 [Ed. Note: The United States government actively seeks to find, and silence, any and all opinions about the United States except those coming from authorized government and/or affiliated sources, of which we are not one.  No interviews are granted and very little personal information is given about our contributors, or their sources, to protect their safety.]

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse - the Zetas Explain

by Nancy Lieder



What caused the collapse? Initial reports indicated terrorism was not a factor. The Zetas had warned of collapsing bridges up and down the Mississippi, due to the torque stress the N American continent endures.

ZetaTalk Prediction 2/10/2006:
[link to]
This creates a diagonal stress on the N American continent where New England is pulled to the east while Mexico is pulled to the West, so the New Madrid is put under slip-slide stress where one half, east of the Mississippi, will move toward the NE while the other, west of the Mississippi, moves toward the SW. A widening Seaway also does not affect just those land masses bordering the Seaway, as buckling occurs inland and afar. What does man assume caused the Black Hills to be so rumpled, with the appearance of a recent bucking and heaving? This is the center of a land plate! The tearing of the Seaway does not end at Duluth, MN, it travels underground to S Dakota!

ZetaTalk Prediction 8/16/2006:
[link to]
What does this do to the N. American plate? It pulls it at a diagonal, ripping the rock fingers along the New Madrid fault such that the land to the East of the Mississippi moves up and to the East, toward New England, and the land to the West of the Mississippi moves down and to the West. This does more than tear most of the bridges along the Mississippi.

Did such a torque affect Minnesota, causing the collapse? The Zetas explain.

We have predicted that bridges crossing the Mississippi will be affected when the New Madrid and related fault lines adjust, going into the pole shift. Was this bridge crossing the Mississippi in Minnesota caused by such an adjustment, the footings on one side of the bridge moving in an opposite direction from the footings on the other side, or perhaps the bridge being pulled apart? The Mississippi is born in Minnesota, tumbling out of the headwaters in the highlands of Minnesota over a series of natural falls. This is a clue that adjustments in the rock strata could be involved. The highlands of Minnesota come to a point at Minneapolis, with lower land lying to the East along this point. What caused the land to the East to drop, unless this land was stretched in the past? We have stated that the ripping apart of the St. Lawrence Seaway ends in the rumpled Black Hills of SD. Run a line from Montreal, at the mouth of the Seaway, to Rapid City, SD and the line runs through Minneapolis. Why would an adjustment be made in the MIDDLE of this stretch zone while the seaway itself did not part? When we described the diagonal pull the N American continent is enduring, and just how this will snap when adjustments are made, we did not intend that this process would occur smoothly, all at once as described. Weak points along the rip lines give way one by one, each such adjustment placing stress on other points in a domino manner. The I35W bridge, being the larger of the bridges crossing the Mississippi at this point, was less able to adapt to a change in position vs a vs its footings on either side of the river, as it was an interstate bridge, supporting several lanes, and thus had massive and thus rigid supports. Smaller bridges have more flexibility as they are built to withstand uneven loads on either end, thus are more springy by design. Will there be more such disasters along the Mississippi and in the cities that will be affected by the New Madrid and Seaway rip? This is just the start, and when the pace picks up, there will be no question that something OTHER than Global Warming is the cause.
Check out the ZetaTalk website!
[link to]

Dear Friends,

Love and Light.


Siberian-Solar Radio Telescope Detected Mysterious Ultra Low Frequency
'Blast' in Sync with Minnesota Bridge Collapse Russia's Institute of
Solar-Terrestrial Physics located in Irkutsk reported recently that their
Siberian Solar Radio Telescope (SSRT) detected a 'massive' ultra low
frequency (ULF) 'blast' emanating from Latitude: 45° 00&#8242; North
Longitude: 93° 15&#8242; West.

ULF is the frequency range between 300 Hertz and 3 kilohertz. It is often
used in mine and submarines communications, as it can penetrate earth and

The time and location of the ULF 'blast' detected coincides exactly with the
time and locations of the tragic collapse of a nearly 2,000 foot long the
Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota that killed at least a dozen
people and seriously injured many others.

The time and location of the ULF 'blast' detected coincides exactly with the
time and locations of the tragic collapse of a nearly 2,000 foot long the
Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota that killed at least a dozen
people and seriously injured many others.

So far there has been no evidence linking its destruction to terrorist
activity. However, according to Russian Military reports, the total and
instantaneous collapse of such a massive bridge could only have been
accomplished by an acoustic weapon. The United States Military is known to
possess acoustic weapons.

In fact, one of the United States primary research organizations for
acoustic weapons research is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Augsburg
College. The acoustic weapons research facility is less than 1 mile from the
Interstate 35W Bridge collapse.

Whether the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics reports have are accurate
or not remains to be seen. Unfortunately, it would not be unprecedented for
the US military to test weapons on civilians. The Orange County Register
recently took a look back at human nuclear weapon testing that took place 50
years ago last month.

"In retrospect, the audacity of 1957's Operation Plumbbob was stunning: a
series of 29 aboveground atomic explosions witnessed at close range by
18,000 men testing their ability to fight on a nuclear battlefield. Planes
flew through radioactive clouds. Marines marched through radioactive sand.
Paratroopers jumped through radioactive skies…the National Association of
Atomic Veterans estimates that more than 900,000 men and women took part in about 1,000 nuclear tests from 1945 to 1992. And more than 140,000 may have suffered cancer or other illnesses as a result."

Acoustic weapons have been under research for decades in the both the US and Russia. Other nations reported to be involved in research on developing
acoustic weapons include Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, and Israel.
Sweden, Japan, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Denmark are reported to have acoustic weapons effects research programs. This type of weapon is commonly seen as a better alternative to nuclear weapons, as it leaves no polluting radioactive materials behind.

Posted by Rebecca Sato
Related links:,2933,159127,00.html






FedEx driver, construction worker injured in Oroville scaffolding collapse
Iron support beams of scaffolding crushed a FedEx truck near Oroville.
Associated Press photo by Steve Yeater

08/01/2007 12:38 AM                  ID: 63934

Bridge Collapse Traps Driver

Robert Sylvester, 45 of Chico CA, was trapped for three hours in his Fed Ex truck after a portion of a bridge under construction landed on his truck. Sylvester's leg and foot were trapped when one of the beams fell on the front of his truck.

A construction worker standing on top of the portion that collapsed, "surfed" the wreckage down to the ground. He and Sylvester were both sent to the hospital where they are expected to survive.

FCI Constructors, the general engineering contractors for the project were cited by Cal-OSHA last year for intentional failure to report worker injuries.



Fall ... a highway overpass being built in California collapsed overnight / AP

  2 Hurt in Calif. Highway Bridge Collapse
07.31.07, 7:17 PM ET

OROVILLE, Calif. -

A highway overpass that was under construction collapsed Tuesday, crushing a delivery truck and seriously injuring a construction worker who clung to a steel beam as it tumbled 50 feet to the ground.

Firefighters swarmed the FedEx (nyse: FDX - news - people ) delivery truck to cut its driver from underneath a large steel beam that crushed the hood but missed the cab. A second beam landed on the back of the truck.

The cause of the collapse was being investigated.

The driver, Robert Sylvester, 45, of Chico, was pulled free about 2 1/2 hours after he was trapped. He suffered only a sprained ankle and minor cuts, his wife, Carol, told The Associated Press.

"We've gone from thinking he was absolutely the unluckiest person to the luckiest," she said, taking her husband home from Enloe Medical Center in Chico.

The construction worker, Jeffrey Doll of Olivehurst, who was on top of the structure, also was injured when it collapsed about 7:15 a.m.

"He rode it 50 feet down to the ground. It's incredible that he's going to survive that one," said Mark Dinger, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation.

Doll, 39, was in serious condition with a fractured pelvis, fractured left elbow and broken lower left leg at the hospital in Chico, hospital spokeswoman Sharon Cuglietta said.

The overpass was being built over Highway 149 where it intersects with Highway 70, about an hour north of Sacramento, California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Karen Ogle said. The project began last summer and was scheduled to be completed in fall 2009.

Highway 149 had been closed overnight and until 5 a.m. Tuesday while workers from private contractor FCI Constructors Inc. erected concrete columns and steel tubes weighing 2,400 to 3,000 pounds that were held together with cables and steel I-beams, Dinger said.

FCI has no record of health and safety violations, and a random inspection in July 2005 found no infractions, said Kate McGuire, a spokeswoman with the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

FCI Constructors President Curtis Weltz, who arrived at the site after the collapse, said he did not yet know what caused the structure to collapse.

"There's a bunch of different possible scenarios. It's never happened to us before," Weltz said.

Jacque Underdown, a spokeswoman for the project's second contractor, Granite Construction (nyse: GVA - news - people ) Co. of Watsonville, said the company was cooperating with investigators.

Carol Sylvester said her husband, a father of three who has worked for FedEx since 2003, had begun his delivery route and was driving north when he saw something fall.

"He saw something fall, he thought a box. Then things started hitting the truck," she said. "I think he's in shock and glad. It was a long time in the truck and he's glad to be home."

Construction crews planned to stabilize the remaining structure and remove an estimated 70 tons of steel worth about $50,000 that crashed onto the highway.

"The top priority right now is to stabilize this and get it reopened to traffic," Dinger said.

Meanwhile, FedEx was evaluating the "large number of packages" damaged in the accident.

"When it is deemed safe and all official investigations are complete, the packages will be retrieved and returned to our local facility," said spokesman Robert Boulware.

The Department of Transportation was rerouting traffic until the road could be reopened, possibly as early as Wednesday morning.

Associated Press writers Samantha Young in Sacramento and Marcus Wohlsen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS age of deliver truck driver to 45, sted 46, per his wife. UPDATES that delivery truck driver released from home; ADDS comment from his wife and contractor. Minor edits.)

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FedEx driver, construction worker injured in Oroville scaffolding collapse

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

07-31) 14:58 PDT OROVILLE -- Newly erected scaffolding on a highway ramp under construction near Oroville collapsed this morning, sending a construction worker plummeting 50 feet to the ground and crushing the legs of a FedEx driver who was trapped in his truck.

Thirty-six tons of steel girders and bent posts crashed to the ground around 7:15 a.m. at state highways 149 and 70 about 5 miles north of Oroville in Butte County, Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

Two steel beams landed on the FedEx truck, crushing driver Robert Sylvester's lower extremities and trapping the 45-year-old Chico resident in the truck for more than three hours, officials said.

Anne Sylvester, Robert's mother, said her son is recovering, "as far as we can tell." She did not know the extent of his injuries but said she had seen her son in the hospital and that he was conscious and talking to his family.

"It's a miracle," she said.

Robert Sylvester has driven for FedEx for five years, his mother said. She said this was his first on-the-job injury.

Also hurt was 39-year-old Jeffery Doll of Olivehurst, an employee of Caltrans contractor Flatiron Construction, said Dinger. He suffered broken bones in his leg, elbow and pelvis after the platform he was standing on collapsed.

"It's incredible he survived," Dinger said. "He had all his safety equipment on, and it saved him."

Both injured men were being treated at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, Dinger said.

Another person, 29-year-old Carrie Underwood of Oroville, broke both her femurs when she rear-ended an unoccupied Caltrans vehicle shortly after the collapse.

The state is upgrading two-lane Highway 149 to a four-lane expressway, and the project includes several flyovers between highways. Dinger said false work -- temporary scaffolding that serves as a platform for construction workers -- for the flyover that will connect highways 149 and 70 had just been put in place Monday night and this morning.

The roadway was closed from 10 a.m. until 5 a.m. while the false work, made of steel girders and bent posts, was constructed. A portion of it collapsed just a little more than two hours after the work was finished.

The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the cause of the collapse, and Caltrans is working with the contractor to secure the false work, Dinger said.

Dinger said officials may be able to make at least a preliminary determination of the cause by Wednesday morning.

The flyover is being constructed by FCI Constructors Inc. of Benicia, a subsidiary of Flatiron Construction Corp. of Colorado. Caltrans has contracts with the company to work on several high-profile projects in the Bay Area, including the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge and the toll plaza approach to the new Benicia Bridge.

According to the U.S. Labor Department statistics, the company has had five reports of safety violations in the last five years, including two in California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Bridge in danger of collapse: area evacuated
Tucson, AZ.

July 31, 2007 05:23 PM PST
The Alvernon Way bridge over Aviation Hwy. has been closed.  The city is concerned that the structural integrity of the bridge is in jeopardy.

Heavy rains have eroded the highway and have possibly affected the overpass supports.

Drivers are advised to stay off the roadways across Tucson.  If you must drive, please use extreme caution and do not drive through flooded roadways or washes.


Southern bridge can collapse any time: official
The 43-year-old Dong Nai Bridge in the eponymous southern Vietnamese province, connecting three industrial hubs including Ho Chi Minh City, can collapse any time, an official has warned.

Colonel Nguyen Phi Hung, provincial deputy police chief, speaking at a conference Monday, blamed it on the increasing traffic which was overloading the bridge.

He had warned the Ministry of Transport several times but it had said the bridge “had seriously degraded but cannot collapse”.

Tran Van Quan, deputy director of the province’s transport department, told the conference that it was not until recently when the local administration had directly pleaded with Minister of Transport Ho Nghia Dung that he had instructed a state-owned company to do a feasibility study for a new bridge.

The bridge links Dong Nai and Binh Duong


Vital Cayuga County bridge collapses
New York State
Posted 7-31-07

By: Evan Axelbank

CAYUGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Now that pieces of this deteriorating bridge are lying in the water, the people who rely on it to cross the Seneca River, hope a turning point is here. 

"You're really, really mad, and yet you're excited at the same time, that it finally did collapse again, for the second time, and maybe, now they will do something about it," said Tonya Anelli, a Haiti Island resident.

Bridge gives out

Parts of a bridge in Cayuga County collapsed early Saturday morning. The bridge connects the town of Mentz to Haiti Island. No one was hurt in the collapse, but for the 60 people who live on the Island, the bridge is a matter of survival. Ironically, just last week, the town held a meeting with state and elected officials to talk about how to fix the bridge. But the bridge collapsed before a plan could be put into motion. News 10 Now's Evan Axelbank explains.

"You can't get groceries, no fuel trucks can get across, no water delivery can be delivered, we're just basically all stranded," Anelli said. 

The bridge is a 25 foot-long lifeline for an island that's not connected to municipal gas, water or sewer. The part that collapsed is from an old bridge, which is now covered by the newer main deck. For now, residents were allowed one trip to bring cars to the mainland, but will need to carry supplies on foot or by boat.

"It's not bad right now because it's summer time, but if this goes until winter, then you have the ice and a real big problem," said resident Betty Ranger.

The town of Mentz admits it has no solution on its own. Fixing the bridge isn't possible on their budget. For now, the state will send a team to inspect it to figure out if cars can begin to travel the bridge again.

"Our bridge inspectors will look at the structural elements, look at the condition of the deck and the substructure and make that determination," said Anthony Ilacqua, a State DOT spokesman.

But even if the state decides it's safe for cars, residents hope the bridge's latest collapse will be proof enough that it's time for higher levels of government to foot the bill for a new bridge, the only way to get to Haiti Island.

Haiti Island New York - bridge remains closed

By: The Citizen staff report
Monday, July 31, 2007 11:50 AM EDT

A town of Mentz bridge connecting about 60 residents on Haiti Island to Route 38 will be closed at least two more days while the state Department of Transportation performs an inspection.

The bridge spanning the Seneca River was closed to vehicle traffic early Saturday morning. It remains open to pedestrians.

A witness reported hearing a portion of the bridge collapse late Friday night. It may have been a section of the original metal bridge that was taken out of service in 1990 after a snow plow breached the structure and fell into the river.

The Army Corps of Engineers built a wooden and metal Bailey bridge over top of the damage at that time. The DOT will need to determine whether that link still has the integrity to support vehicle traffic.

As of Monday morning, the DOT had not begun an inspection expected to take about 48 hours, town Highway Superintendent Gene Dedrick said.

Current Publication Date: 27/07/2007

Dramatic bridge fall severs a vital Mayo–Galway link

by Fiona McGarry

One of the busiest trade and tourism links between Mayo and Galway has been severed with the dramatic collapse of the bridge on the N59 at Leenane this week.

Motorists travelling from Mayo into Connemara are facing diversions of over 80 miles after the collapse which happened during torrential rain last Wednesday night.

The bridge is one of the main links between Westport and Clifden and carries up to 4,000 vehicles a day, including almost all of the local tourist traffic. All motorists must now take diversions of up to 70 to 80 miles around and away from Leenane.

The 100-year-old bridge, which has three arches, was almost completely demolished by flash flooding and what locals have described as a ‘mini landslide’ at around 5pm on Wednesday. Killary Cruises dispatched an inflatable boat to take some people across the river yesterday evening, and a number of local businesses had their premises flooded due to the torrential downpours. Residents said it was a miracle that nobody was injured as the bridge was heavily trafficked just before its collapse.

Yesterday (Thursday) engineers from the National Roads Authority and Galway County Council travelled to survey the damage and draw up a time-frame for the re-opening of the bridge.

Mayo Fine Gael Deputy John O’Mahony has called on local authority officials in both Mayo and Galway to join forces in an effort to reduce the impact of the bridge collapse on the people of the region. There are fears that the indefinite closure of the bridge which provides a link for motorists between counties Galway and Mayo could have a serious impact on tourism in the area.

“There is a historical trade link between Leenane and Mayo,” Dep O’Mahony said. “Many Leenane people do business in Westport and Castlebar while the N59 is also the main tourist route between Mayo and Connemara. It’s vital that the two local authorities combine resources and every effort should be made to put in place a plan that will make life easier for people who use the road,” he added.

It’s understood that engineers are looking at the possibility of putting a temporary bridge in place to carry light traffic. It’s hoped that this could be in place within a fortnight. A permanent structure capable of taking tour buses and HGVs could take considerably longer. The first priority will be to provide a pedestrian walkway to re-connect the two sides of the village, which are now cut off from each other. Engineers from Galway County Council say this will be put in place in the coming days.

Gardaí have advised motorists travelling from Westport to Clifden to travel to Ballinrobe and then on to Maam Cross.

The bridge over the Lahill River featured in Jim Sheridan’s film The Field, much of which was shot in and around Leenane in 1989.


Thu 19th July 2007

People travelling between Connemara and Mayo are facing a long detour following the collapse of the Leenaun Bridge yesterday evening.

The bridge fell asunder shortly after 5 yesterday evening following a heavy rain and a landslide close to Leenaun village.

Council engineers will inspect the collapsed bridge this morning and It may be a week or more before a temporary bridge is put in place.



On nine municipal structures. Montreal follows Quebec's lead and bars heavy vehicles while engineers carry out extensive inspections

City restricts trucks

ANDY RIGA, The Gazette


Montreal has barred heavy trucks from seven municipal overpasses, a bridge and a ramp as a preventive measure while engineers conduct in-depth inspections of the structures.

The spans are of the concrete-slab type Transport Quebec has targeted as potentially dangerous because they might not have sufficient steel reinforcement or might not have been built properly in the first place.

Previous regularly scheduled inspections of the structures have not uncovered any problems, Sammy Forcillo, the city executive committee member responsible for traffic infrastructure, told reporters yesterday.

A chunk of concrete has fallen from a small pedestrian overpass on Nuns' Island.


"It's a preventive measure," he said of the extra scrutiny and new restrictions on trucks.

"Our administration is determined not to take any chances," he added.

The city took the first step Saturday, closing two lanes of traffic and banning trucks weighing more than 20 tonnes on one of the structures - an overpass at Henri Bourassa Blvd. E. and Pie IX Blvd. in Montreal North.

On the other eight, no lanes will be closed and trucking restrictions won't be as stringent, Forcillo said.

The city is banning only extremely heavy vehicles that require special permits - for example, trucks moving construction cranes or pulling two trailers.

The city's list does not include the eight overpasses Transport Quebec announced on July 19 it was taking a closer look at. Those structures, under provincial jurisdiction, are among 135 bridges, overpasses and ramps across the province targeted for special inspection because of concerns they could collapse.

The extensive review comes after the Johnson commission into last year's collapse of the de la Concorde Blvd. overpass in Laval discovered serious construction and design flaws in that structure. The collapse killed five people and injured six.

The nine Montreal structures "are safe," said Marc Blanchet, an engineer who heads the city's transportation department.

The city has done visual inspections and now is conducting a more thorough analysis, including laboratory tests on concrete samples, he said.

Engineers are "also looking at the design of the structure, the design plans, and we're redoing calculations on the stability of the structures," Blanchet said.

"We want to see if there's anything we don't know about them. We want to make sure they're as safe as we think they are." Inspection results won't be known before the fall, after which the restrictions will be reviewed, Forcillo said.

The cost of the inspections is being absorbed by the city's existing infrastructure budget, Forcillo said. It's too early to say whether any repairs will have to be done or how much that work might cost, he added.

The city spent $211 million between 2002 and 2006 on maintaining bridges and overpasses, Forcillo said. Another $20 million is to be spent this year.

No extra police officers have been assigned to enforce the truck rules, said Eric Godin, commander of the Montreal police traffic safety unit. He said officers on patrol are being asked to look for infractions.

Four die in Mukono river


Joshua Kisawuzi


Following the government's delay to reconstruct Musamya Bridge in Mukono District, four people have so far drowned there. A resident, only identified as Sendagire, drowned on July 29, 2007 while crossing over.

"He slide by the river shore and swerved into the river. By the time people came to his rescue he had died," Mr Fred Ojambo, the local council chairman, said. Others died a month after the collapse of the bridge while attempting to cross.
The bridge collapsed due to heavy rains in February.

The bridge joins Ntunda and Nagojje sub-counties in Mukono to Kayunga districts respectively. Mukono District council in March donated a boat to ferry residents but many say it is risky to use because it over loads.

Nigeria: Company Explains Collapse of Nyama Bridge


12 July 2007
Posted to the web 12 July 2007

Francis Ugwoke

Collapse of the N292 million Nyama bridge, located at Obeagu Awkunanaw, Enugu, was yesterday blamed on structural defects, gully erosion and scooping of sharp sand around the area.

Absolving the company of any blame for the collapse of the bridge, the Site Engineer of Marlum Nigeria Limited, Engineer Sam Onuaguluchi said it was the faulty design of the bridge that was responsible for the problem, adding that it "alerted the Ministry about possible collapse of the bridge due to excavation of sand and erosion, but the Ministry officials allayed our fears. In the past, Marlum had advised government that if the scooping of sharp sand were not halted at the spot, it would cause great damage to the bridge. We can recall that government had followed instantly and ordered the stoppage of such activities within two kilometers along the stretch of the Nyama River . Regrettably, this instruction was not adhered to for long, as sharp sand scooping resumed shortly after. The condition had been worsened by the rain, which washed off the base, causing a slide of the sides of the bridgehead, not the bridge itself."

Although Onuaguluchi claimed that it was not Marlum that constructed the bridge, a geologist who refused to give his name said the company simply followed the design given to it by the state government.

According to him, the company was contracted in 2005, to construct the two ends of the road to the bridge.

Responding to a question on why it allowed a sign board near the bridge which clearly indicated that the company was the contractor, Onuaguluchi referred newsmen to the Ministry of Works.

Our correspondent who visited the Ministry was told that the Commissioner, Engrineer Luke Mmamel was attending the state's Executive Council meeting.

Mendez fortunate to survive suicide bombing

When asked about the hot northwest Ohio weather, John Mendez just smiled.

"It's 115 degrees or more during the summer in Iraq," said the Marine corporal. "This is nothing."

Mendez is lucky he's smiling at all.

The 2003 Tinora High School graduate was critically injured by a suicide bomber April 20 while serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.

According to the U.S. military, a dump truck loaded with explosives detonated under a highway overpass causing a large part of the bridge to collapse. One Iraqi civilian was killed and seven other American troops besides Mendez were injured.

"We were using the bridge as a checkpoint to watch for insurgents putting IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the road," said Mendez. "We could look down and see both directions down the highway, even at night. Vehicles went under the bridge all the time."

The explosion caused Mendez to go airborne, and he landed several meters away in a pile of sandbags.

"I knew there was something seriously wrong with my feet," he said. "I couldn't even get up."

His left heel was completely blown off and the back of his right foot was shattered into bone fragments. He also suffered a severe blow to the back of his head and nerve damage in one of his hands.

"What saved my life was the quick action by a Marine emergency medical team," said Mendez, who is currently confined to a wheelchair. "They got to me and the other guys right away. They dug me out of the sandbags, calmed me down, got me stabilized and evacuated me out of there."

A few hours later he was being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. By April 25 he was back on American soil.

"I have had numerous surgeries, too many to count," he said. "My left foot is still worse than my right. I've still got six staples in my head."

One Marine remains in a coma from the same bombing. Another lost a leg, one now has a metal knee cap and kidney damage, and still another suffered severe head injuries.

"I think of those other guys every day," he stated. "I also think of the rest of my company, which is still in Iraq. It's kind of disappointing to leave early when all your buddies are there fighting. They are your family."

Mendez, the son of rural Defiance residents Maribel and Richard Casarez, returns to his home in San Diego on Friday to enjoy the remainder of his leave time with his wife, Grace, and their two dogs.

Saturday is his 23rd birthday and Defiance Mayor Bob Armstrong has proclaimed it "Cpl. John Mendez Day" in the city.

"The reception the people gave me at the courthouse last Friday was really nice," said Mendez. "The best part was talking to the older veterans. Those guys were great."

His current leave ends Aug. 5, at which time he will resume his rehabilitation in California.

"There's a good chance I will need more surgeries, especially for my left foot," he stated. "My goal is to walk with crutches by fall."

Despite his condition, Mendez said he is glad he joined the Marines after high school.

"I've always wanted to be in the military. I knew I would probably go to Iraq, just not three times. But I don't regret any time I've spent, even with this," he said, pointing to his feet. "This experience has made me a better person."

Ca Mau: landslide kills four children
16:50' 17/07/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – A landslide suddenly occurred at 1am, July 16 at Xom Lon village in Hang Vinh commune, Nam Can district, southern Ca Mau province, causing three houses to collapse in the river and killing four children.


The landslide happened at midnight so local people didn’t have time to evacuate. Consequently, a 30-year-old woman, her daughter and her four nieces at the ages of 12, 15 and 5 were swept away. Luckily, the woman and one of her nieces escaped from death.


The local administration picked up the bodies of three children and is seeking the body of the remaining child.


This landslide caused material losses of more than VND200 million (US$12,500).

Overpass collapse blamed on design, construction and concrete

Commission hears that bridge deterioration started as a crack, created years before the accident

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

MONTREAL — A combination of questionable design, poor construction and the use of a type of concrete that couldn't handle winter conditions are direct factors in the collapse of a highway overpass that killed five people, an expert testified yesterday.

It's the first time that someone with extensive access to the accident site has commented in an authoritative fashion about the possible cause of the tragedy.

The overpass spans Highway 19 in Laval, Que., north of Montreal.

On Sept. 30, the concrete in the structure's southeastern corner sheared off, bringing down the entire south section of the overpass. Among the five victims who were crushed while driving under the overpass was a pregnant woman.

The expert, Jacques Marchand, a Laval University professor of civil engineering, told a commission of inquiry into the collapse that the breakdown stemmed from a crack in the east-side concrete corbel that supported the overpass's span.

"The crack began many years before the collapse of the work and progressed over the years," he said.

"It helped the infiltration of water and salt, which contributed to the decay of the concrete."

The head of the inquiry, Pierre-Marc Johnson, urged Transport Quebec officials to draw lessons from the expertise. "These investigations have highlighted risk factors that could apply to other structures and other bridges," he said.

However, Prof. Marchand said the overpass had an unusual design that is not common and hasn't been used in Quebec in two decades.

Built without pillars, the overpass places all its load on the two corbels at its ends. It is a so-called isostatic bridge, which rests on minimal poia sign that too much stress was being placed on the concrete there.

(Reinforcement bars are steel rods that are sunken into the concrete to ge decaying concrete. "It's an element that drew our attention right away."

The concrete was too porous and couldn't handle repeated freezing and thawing, he said.

In addition, the bridge's design made it hard to be inspected and left water and salt pooling in the corbels. "That helped the decay of the concrete and lead to damages to the structure."

Prof. Marchand said he thought another factor was a poor repair job in 1992 on the bridge's expansion joint that weakened the structure, but there was no consensus on that point from other experts who will testify later.

Tanker fire destroys part of MacArthur Maze

2 freeways closed near Bay Bridge   


Sunday, April 29, 2007

04-29) 18:03 PDT OAKLAND -- Huge leaping flames from an exploding gasoline tanker melted the steel underbelly of a highway overpass in the East Bay's MacArthur Maze early this morning, causing it to collapse onto the roadway below and virtually ensuring major traffic problems for weeks to come.

The elevated roadway that fell carried eastbound traffic from the Bay Bridge onto Interstates 580 and 980 and state Highway 24. It draped like a blanket over a roadway below, a connector from southbound I-80 to I-880 that also was severely damaged.

The single-vehicle crash occurred on the lower roadway when the tanker, loaded with 8,600 gallons of unleaded gasoline and heading from a refinery in Benicia to a gas station on Hegenberger Road in Oakland, hit a guardrail at 3:41 a.m.

Engineers said the green steel frame of the I-580 overpass and the bolts holding the frame together began to melt and bend in the intense heat

-- and that movement pulled the roadbed off its supports.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Trent Cross said the driver of the tanker, James Mosqueda, 51, of Woodland (Yolo County), was traveling too fast in a 50 mph zone when his truck overturned and burst into flames.

Mosqueda, an employee of Sabek Transportation in San Francisco for 10 months, got out of the truck on his own after it overturned and hailed a taxi that took him to Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, witnesses and police said.

He has been transferred to the burn unit at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco, where his father said he was "doing OK" this afternoon, having sustained burns on his face, neck and hands. The family expected Mosqueda to remain hospitalalized two or three more days.

Cross said Mosqueda had a valid driver's license and there is no indication he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he crashed.

Oakland firefighters, the first public safety workers on the scene, arrived with two engines at 3:55 a.m., Capt. Cedric Price said.

"We didn't know it was a tanker truck that was involved. As soon as that was established we immediately upgraded to a large scale incident response team and added two more engines and two trucks," Price said.

Firefighters immediately noticed the upper connector ramp was buckling and seven minutes after they arrived -- at 4:02 a.m. -- it collapsed, Price said. Now there were no more structures threatened, the firefighters' approach shifted.

"With no structures or lives in jeopardy and with 8,000 gallons of flammable fuel involved, you're basically better off letting it burn itself out," said Price.

Firefighters used only water to control the blaze, which took about two hours, he said. Had there been lives at risk, firefighters would have used foam to fight the blaze, but it would have run off into the nearby Bay water, polluting it.

"That this didn't happen on a weekday morning might have been the only beauty of it," said Price.

With the help of protective gear and breathing devices, firefighter exposure to the fumes was minimal, according to Price. A total of 29 Oakland Fire Department personnel were on scene as well as one engine from Emeryville. A smaller crew of Oakland firefighters remained there through the early evening to watch for potential dangers.

Jennifer Summers, 36, was driving from her costume design job in San Francisco home to the Oakland hills just before 4 a.m. when she saw black smoke and realized the freeway was on fire. She quickly pulled off and looped around so she could see what was going on.

When she got out of her car, flames were shooting into the sky over multiple layers of freeway and she could hear loud crackling and explosions.

"There were bright, bright orange flames and they were huge," said Summers. "There were cars driving through the flames. The first cars slowed down like they didn't know what to do and then kept going. I was shocked."

Summers said dozens of vehicles stopped to watch the spectacle, which ended with a horrendous crash as the freeway collapsed in a torrent of fire and rubble.

"There was nothing you could do," she said. "I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, this is going to be a nightmare with the traffic problems we already have.' "

Isaac Rodriguez, a 53-year-old sanitation supervisor who works the graveyard shift at East Bay Municipal Utility District's sewage treatment plant, said his supervisor called him about 3:45 a.m. and told him to leave work because of a nearby explosion.

Rodriguez went outside with a co-worker and saw the I-880 connector about 50 feet above him engulfed in fire with flames leaping up to the I-580 connector above that.

"It was massive," Rodriguez said. "I saw movement and there was a man up there. I started talking to the guy. Are you the truck driver? 'Yes.' He said, 'I'm burned. I got out as soon as I could.' ''

The driver seemed disoriented.

"It looked at one time he was walking toward the truck again. I believe he was in shock,'' Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he regretted not thinking to send a vehicle up to get the injured man. He and a coworker stood for some 40 minutes watching the freeway burn.

"It looked like a big slab of plastic because it was melted. It's made of steel and concrete and it was bent at both angles of the pillar. It really looked fake. ... It was an event last night that I'm not going to forget for a long time. It was incredible because it was a roar.

No sign of the truck remains at the scene. One Caltrans worker there early this morning held up his thumb and forefinger an inch apart to describe how big the tanker is now.

John Goodwin, a spokesman for the regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the maze is one of the worst spots for traffic in the Bay Area.

"Westbound 80 is already the most congested route in the Bay Area, and it has been for many years," said Goodwin. "Also, the route coming off the Bay Bridge eastbound from Treasure Island is number 10 on the regional congestion list, and with 580 gone there will be a huge impact on that already-congested route."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to announce this evening that some Bay Area transit agencies will offer free rides tomorrow.

Goodwin anticipates that the impacts of the latest disaster will extend to roads far beyond the East Bay.

"This really strikes at the very center of the Bay Area freeway network," he said, predicting the closure of the two overpassess will "have a ripple effect" across the region.

"It will put more traffic on the San Mateo Bridge, the Golden Gate and the Richmond-San Rafael bridge," Goodwin said.

Some 35,000 cars travel the two-lane I-880 connector each day, and 45,000 cars use the I-580 connector, which is three lanes, said Caltrans Director Will Kempton.

Kempton said rebuilding the I-580 connector will cost tens of millions of dollars. The extent of the damage to the I-880 connector cannot be determined, he said, until the debris is cleared off.

"Initial indications are that it has been severely damaged," Kempton said "It will obviously need some work."

This wasn't the first major crash to clog the crucial traffic corridor through Oakland. On Feb. 5, 1995, a tanker loaded with liquefied gas crashed and burned on the MacArthur Maze, killing the driver, injuring 10 other people and creating an all-day traffic jam.

Witnesses said at the time that the tanker, which was changing lanes when it skidded out of control, created a 100-foot-tall fireball after it crashed on the connector between westbound I-80 and eastbound I-580, which is immediately northeast of the scene of today's crash.

The 1989 collapse of the Cypress Structure during the Loma Prieta earthquake caused years of detours and traffic problems in the same area.

Traffic on the affected roadways remains light this afternoon, apparently because many drivers canceled plans that would have required driving.

But major backups are expected, especially tonight when the Golden State Warriors take on the Dallas Mavericks tonight in the fourth game of their playoff series and Oakland's Oracle Arena.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, in a press conference in San Diego Sunday, said that he has spoken to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's staff about the crash aftermath -- and particularly how to accomplish repairs quickly.

Newsom said state officials are "fastracking" the repairs by using some of the same shortcuts that got Interstate 10 rebulit quickly after Southern California's Northridge earthquake in 1994.

As many as 40 people stood gawking at the disaster scene at various points today. Most stood in a Caltrans construction area under the freeway and took pictures. Some said they had heard what sounded like train cars crashing together in the nearby freight yard this morning before they saw what had happened.

Everyone agreed that the weekday commute is going to be horrible.

"It's just going to be outrageous," said Gary Lewis of Oakland. "You'll have all this traffic merging at one time."

"They need to go back to the drawing board," said Sandra Moore of Oakland, who had driven over the collapsed section the night before. "I'm sorry this had to happen, but this is a wake-up call."

Larry Gordon of Oakland, was riveted by the scene of scorched steel and hundreds of yards of melted pavement.

"It's incredible, amazing," he said. "If fire can do that a steel structure like this, what can the next earthquake do?"

Henry Geronimo, 44, of West Oakland, watched the cleanup operation from a fence along Mandela Parkway.

"Coming home is going to be a big big problem," said Geronimo, who commutes to work in San Francisco as draftsman. "Do you know how many terrorists are looking at this? They're getting ideas."

Wanda Realegeno, a 42-year-old Richmond resident, said she isn't looking forward to her commute to school near Oakland Coliseum, which normally takes her onto the I-800 connector that the truck was on when it crashed.

"This is amazing," she said. "It's almost as bad as the earthquake. I'm just thinking: how am I going to get to work tomorrow? I was trying to figure out my path."

Chronicle staff writers Carolyn Jones, Michael Cabanatuan, Rick DelVecchio and John Wildermuth contributed to this report.


Overpass near Oakland, California collapses after truck explodes



SAN FRANCISCO: A fiery pre-dawn tanker truck accident caused the collapse of heavily used freeway overpass near downtown Oakland on Sunday, sending hundreds of feet of concrete and steel roadway crashing down onto a highway below, and probably complicating the lives of thousands of Bay Area commuters for months to come.

The driver of the tanker truck was hurt in the crash, but no other injuries were immediately reported.

The accident, which was reported to the California Highway Patrol at 4:55 a.m. Pacific time, sent flames soaring hundreds of feet into the air, according to witnesses. The overpass carrying the eastbound lanes of Interstate 580 quickly buckled and collapsed onto Interstate 80 below.

The accident occurred near the entrance to the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco with Oakland, Berkeley and other cities on the east side of San Francisco Bay. Several major highways converge at that spot, a complex interchange known as the MacArthur Maze.

Officers with the highway patrol said that the driver of the tractor-trailer, which was apparently carrying gasoline, may have been speeding southward on Interstate 80 toward the bridge when he lost control of the truck, which hit a guardrail and flipped on its side.

10 years on, Maccabi to mark bridge collapse
Australian Jewish News, Australia - Jul 7, 2007
THE Jewish community will mark the 10th anniversary of the Maccabiah bridge collapse that claimed the life of four Australians, at a series of commemorative ...
JIM ROSS: Anniversary of Silver Bridge collapse is approaching
Huntington Herald Dispatch, WV - Jul 5, 2007
The collapse of the Silver Bridge shook the Point Pleasant and Gallipolis communities in a way that nothing else in living memory had, with the possible ...

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Then and Now
Manufacturers' Blog, DC - Jul 15, 2007
moments in US engineering history, the collapse of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge
on Nov. 7, 1940. The original design proved susceptible to high winds, ...

Minnesota. That state also has the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The name Minneapolis comes from the Souix words, "minne" (water) and "haha" (waterfall) and the Greek word, "polis" (city). Minnehaha was the girl Hiawatha married in Longfellow's, The Song Of Hiawatha. Hiawatha was a messenger of the legendary "Peace Maker," who was of virgin birth.

Minneapolis Mayor Rybak Called for Bush-Cheney Impeachment

This might be important enough to have its own thread. If not, well, okay.

This just seems... sticky...

[link to]

"......Bush also called Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to offer his condolences and prayers for the losses, and acknowledged the economic cost of losing a main transportation artery...."

Three months ago, Minneapolis Mayor Rybak said he supports the impeachment of Cheney and Bush.

At the 2007 Minneapolis May Day Parade --

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak: said:
'Bush-Cheney actions justify impeachment' and that he was in favor of the impeachment of President George W. Bush.

“If the actions of the Bush Administration don’t justify impeachment, what would?”

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) also indicated that he would be interested in hosting a Town Hall meeting on impeachment.

Both Rep. Ellison and Mayor Rybak were given Impeach for buttons, which they promptly pinned to their shirts.

[link to]

Later Rybak denied saying anything of the sort, but ... well... it seems he's got bigger problems to worry about now.

China bridge collapse kills 28, injures 22

1,000-foot span over the Tuo river was under construction

BEIJING -8-15-07- A bridge on the verge of completion in south China has collapsed, killing 28 people and injuring 22 in a possible indication of safety standards ridden rough-shod in the face of breakneck economic development.

Dozens were missing after the 1,000-foot-long, 138-foot bridge spanning the Tuo river in Fenghuang county, Hunan province, collapsed during the evening rush hour on Monday, even as workers were stripping it of scaffolding, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

Footage on state television showed bulldozers and rescue workers picking through a massive pile of debris stretching between two hills at the banks of the river, which flows through a scenic area popular with tourists in western Hunan.

“It is very difficult to recover the missing buried under the rocks,” Xinhua quoted the county’s Communist Party vice secretary Luo Ming a saying.

Cause of collapse under investigation
Police had detained a construction manager and a “project supervisor” for questioning, Xinhua said, but the cause of the accident was still under investigation.

The collapse came as state media reported that China would fix more than 6,000 damaged or dangerous bridges across the country. A bridge collapse in June in the southern province of Guangdong killed nine people.

Some 400 police had been sent to the scene to keep order and more than 1,500 rescue workers were searching for the missing, Xinhua said. More than 120 doctors and nurses were at the site.

I saw a lot of bodies lying on the road, some of them were construction workers, and some were passers-by ... blood was everywhere,” witness Yang Shunzhong told Reuters.

“A car was crushed flat under the bridge, it was so ruined that I could not even tell (its) size,” Yang said.

Workplace accidents sites are rife in booming China, where patchy safety enforcement and corner-cutting by contractors result in the deaths of thousands in the country’s coal mines, factories and building sites every year.

Toll expected to rise

Yang said the toll could rise much higher. “A lot of women and children were ... crying and looking for their families or friends,” he said.

Xinhua quoted Tian Jing, a 29-year-old construction worker on the bridge, as saying three men from his home village were buried in the debris.

At least 123 workers were at the site of the arched concrete bridge, which was to have been completed this month and cost 12 million yuan to build, Xinhua said.

About 60 workers were on the bridge itself when it collapsed, the State Administration of Work Safety said on its Web site.

The collapse had cut off a highway linking Fenghuang county to an airport in neighboring Guizhou province’s Tongren region, a notice posted on the local government Web site said.

An editorial in the official China Daily on Tuesday warned that thousands of the country’s bridges were unsafe. “If left unrepaired these bridges may crumble at any time, wreaking economic havoc and possibly claiming human lives,” it said.

The bridge disaster occurred days after the death toll from the Interstate 35W bridge’s Aug. 1 collapse into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis was raised to nine.

Bridge Collapse in Vietnam Kills Scores

Posted: 2007-09-26 03:25:07
Filed Under: World News
HANOI (Sept. 26) - A bridge under construction collapsed in southern Vietnam on Wednesday, killing at least 60 workers, and 100 others were missing, a contractor and police said.

State-run Vietnam TV showed footage of the damage to the collapsed concrete and steel structure in Can Tho City and reported that people were still trapped in the rubble.

A contractor with China State Construction Engineering Corp, one of the firms involved in the construction of the bridge, said by telephone that 60 people were dead.

"They are still pulling out bodies from the rubble, I could hear the screams," the contractor said from Can Tho, which is 105 miles south of the commercial centre of Ho Chi Minh City.

Police said there were about 100 workers directly under the section of the bridge over the Hau river where the scaffolding collapsed at about 08:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) at the start of a shift. About 150 workers were on the bridge surface, a Can Tho police officer said.

"The figures of victims are still being updated but as many as 100 could be dead or missing for now," the officer said by telephone.

The cause of the collapse on a section of the 1.7 miles long bridge was not immediately known, but Vietnam TV reported that rains may have softened the foundation.

The bridge was being built at a cost of $300 million to be finished next year.

Most of the workers were Vietnamese but the contractor said that less than 10 Filipinos and Japanese workers were unaccounted for.

Officials in Can Tho said about 250 engineers and workers from three Japanese contractors -- Taisei Corp, Kajima Corp and Nippon Steel Engineering Co Ltd -- were on the construction site at the time of the accident.

Hau river is one of the nine tributaries of the Mekong river when it enters southern Vietnam from Cambodia. Rice traders said barge traffic would not be affected by the accident.

The online VnExpress newspaper quoted officials in Can Tho as saying the scaffolding collapsed.

"We heard a loud explosion and then a big cloud of dust and screams from workers stuck in the rubble," the state-run newspaper quoted a bridge engineer at the site as saying.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.