Divers Back in "Treacherous" Mississippi in Search for Victims

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Minneapolis (AP) The medical examiner in Minneapolis has confirmed another death from the bridge collapse. That makes five so far.

The number is likely to increase, as divers go back into the muddy Mississippi River. Police say other bodies have been spotted in the fast-moving currents.

However, authorities have now lowered the official estimate of people missing to eight. About 80 people were injured in the collapse during Wednesday's rush hour.

Crews are focusing on a number of sites upstream from the wreckage, including four partially submerged vehicles. Divers are working in pairs as a safety precaution. They are diving 30 minutes at a time with two going underwater and two remaining above.

Authorities are also reviewing the safety record of the eight-lane I-35W bridge, which was determined to be “structurally deficient” as early as 1990. Some experts are pointing to the presence of heavy construction equipment being used for repairs as a possible factor in the collapse.

An engineering professor at Northwestern University says the design of the Interstate 35W bridge may have actually reduced the death toll. Joseph Schofer says the bridge's underlying arch truss stopped heavy pieces of steel from falling onto vehicles when the cars plunged into the water.


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