Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Bridge Collapses in Minneapolis During Rush Hour

Local and national news outlets are reporting the collapse of a section of the I-35W bridge near downtown Minneapolis, about 10 minutes from our house. From WCCO News:
    Both the northbound and southbound lanes of 35W are lying in the Mississippi River.

    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.

    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 between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.

    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.

    The road has been under construction since the beginning of the summer.
Here's what the scene looked like shortly before this post:

We live in St. Paul, but drive on this section of highway all the time. It's one of the most heavily traveled in the Twin Cities.

So far, no fatalities have been reported. Our prayers are with those involved.

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