Thursday, August 2, 2007
Previous reports indicated at least nine people had died, but Minneapolis police revised this to four during a 7:30 a.m. (local time) press conference. Tim Dolan, the Minneapolis Police Chief later stated that “several [adding to the four] people are confirmed dead at the scene,” but would not elaborate on how many. At least 79 have been injured and at least 8 are still missing, still believed to be in the rubble.
The road was busy with bumper-to-bumper traffic in four lanes when the entire 1907 foot (581 m) steel arch bridge collapsed. At least 50 cars were traveling on the bridge, including a school bus. The Red Cross said that 60 children were aboard a school bus, and that ten of those were admitted to a hospital.
The entire length of the bridge over the river collapsed at 6:05 p.m. CDT (UTC-5). The bridge, built in 1967, cleared the water level by 64 feet; the deck surface and pavement were considerably higher.
Reports say that people may be trapped in the water. Further, “many voids may contain survivors, but we cannot search those voids until it’s safe,” said Jim Clack, Minneapolis Fire Chief, during a press conference.
“One has died from drowning,” said a doctor from the medical center during an 8:00 pm press conference, who also said that so far 22 are in “yellow condition” and at least six are in “critical condition.”
Minneapolis officials have stated during an earlier press conference that “people are being sent downtown and all survivors are off the bridge. We are seeking help from the Red Cross.” and “[…]at least 60 children are receiving trauma care some with severe injures, some with minor injuries.”
Most of the injured have been received by Hennepin County Medical Center in downtown Minneapolis for medical treatment. Area hospitals are requesting all off duty staff and all Minneapolis ambulances to report. Residents are being encouraged to stay away from the area to let emergency crews do their work.
It is not known what caused the collapse, but there was construction being performed on the bridge’s road surface which included the use of jackhammers and the FBI has ruled out terrorism.
“Although it is much too early to make any determination of the cause, we have no reason at this time to believe there is any nexus to terrorism,” said Paul McCabe, an FBI spokesman.
In 2001 a stress inspection was done and Minnesota Department of Transportation stated that the bridge “should not have any problems with fatigue cracking in the foreseeable future.”
Typically an eight-lane bridge, the bridge was reduced to four lanes (two in each direction) during the current construction. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) had just announced overnight lane reductions on the bridge to one lane in each direction for the late evening hours of July 31 and August 1.