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Minneapolis bridge collapse

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 1, 2007 07:59 PM

Update 2:50pm Eastern. David N. at Overlawyered notes that the inevitable mob of trial lawyers is already circling the bridge collapse.

Update 8/2 1:50pm Eastern. Dean Barnett checks the stupid-o-meter.

More from the Blame Bush brigade.

Ed Morrissey blogs the federal response from President Bush, who promises “robust” efforts to investigate and rebuild the bridge.

Update 8/2 12:30pm Eastern. Popular Mechanics weighs in on America’s weak infrastructure.

Update 8/2 9:40am Eastern. Yes, yes, the BDS sufferers are crawling out of their padded cells to pin the collapse on conservatives. Here, here, and here (the comments blame global warming, Halliburton/Cheney, and lack of resources because of the war), if you must see it.

The Pioneer Press looks at Internet coverage of the collapse. Lots of Twitter users and bloggers covering the story wall-to-wall.

Meanwhile, a National Guardsman writes in: “I just wanted to point out something your readers might be interested in. If you look at the footage of the I-35 bridge collapse you can see the Minnesota Army National Guard Civil Support Team (CST – basically a WMD/Counter-Terror/Disaster Response Team) responded to the scene. You can see an M113 Armored [Personnel] Carrier on the north side of the collapse in footage taken at the scene…Just figured I’d point that out. As a National Guard member it sometimes gets frustrating that everybody always thinks of America’s soldiers as being over in Iraq. Whenever our Nation calls we respond, whether it’s in Iraq or right here at home.”

“I have several family members that were going across the bridge just minutes before the collapse – I am thanking God tonight they are safe. I don’t live in the Twin Cities area but oddly enough I was going across that bridge on Tuesday!”

Video and more info on warnings about the bridge’s structural deficiencies at HA.

Twin Cities blogger/journalist James Lileks reflects:

I’ve driven across this bridge every few days for thirty years. There are bridges, and there are bridges; this one had the most magnificent view of downtown available, and it’s a miracle I never rear-ended anyone while gawking at the skyline, the old Stone Bridge, the Mississippi. You always felt proud to be here when you crossed that bridge, pleased to live in such a beautiful place. Didn’t matter if it was summer twilight or hard cold winter noon – Minneapolis always seemed to be standing at attention, posing for a formal portrait . We’ll have that view again – but it’ll take a generation before it’s no longer tinged with regret and remembrance.

Update 8/2 9:30am Eastern. First-hand acounts from the kids on the school bus who survived the collapse:

“We were on our way back from the swimming field trip,” said Ryan Watkins, one of the youths on the bus.

“We were riding over the bridge and the bridge collapsed, and we were right on the part where it went down — where it curved down,” he said, describing the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge near University Avenue.

Watkins was one of 52 children and nine adults who survived the accident, according to Tony Wagner, president of the local nonprofit social services group that organized the trip.

Eight of the kids, ages 5 to 14, were hospitalized with injuries, Wagner said.

“I know a little girl who was bleeding,” Watkins said shortly after the accident. “I didn’t see what happened, but she was bleeding in between her legs and another girl had hurt her neck.”

Update 8/2 8:30am Eastern. Death toll lowered to four for now.

Update 10:50pm Eastern. Lots of folks on the cable news are saying the footage of the bridge collapse area reminds them of 9/11. I’m reminded more of the Northridge earthquake. I lived near the epicenter–and the breadth of destruction, the collapse of part of the Santa Monica freeway, the pancaking/destruction, etc., are very reminscent of the scene today. A Minnesota DOT official also alluded to the Northridge quake on CNN just now. And a fellow Northridge quake survivor told the Minnesota Star Tribune:

Catherine Yankelevich, 29, was on the bridge when “it started shaking, cars started flying and I was falling and saw the water,” she said.

Her car was in the river when she climbed out the driver’s side window and swam to shore uninjured.

“It seemed like a movie, it was pretty scary,” said Yankelevich, who is from California and survived the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

“I never expected anything like this to happen here,” she said.

Update 10:00pm Eastern. Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak reports that six deaths are confirmed…and they are bracing for a long, tragic night to come. Awful.
“No structural deficiencies” reported in 2006 on the bridge, according to Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Cosmetic and rehabilitation was being done.

As noted below, the Red Cross received 60 kids from the school bus that stopped short of plunging off the bridge…up to 10 kids transported to area hospitals…donations/aid can go to www.redcrosstc.org

Reader Pete sends photos from the scene taken earlier this evening…

bridgecrush.jpg

bridgepl.jpg

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Update 9:30pm Eastern. From the St. Paul Pioneer Press

Janet Stately, of Minneapolis, was driving southbound on Interstate 35W from Duluth with her daughter, Brianne. Stately said she exited onto University Avenue just minutes before reaching the bridge. On the overpass, she heard the cracking of the structure and

“I was driving the car and I screamed when I heard it crack,” Stately said. “It’s like it went in slow motion. I heard the crack and I saw the cars going straight in. There was not a space between the cars on that bridge. I tried to tell people on the road if you can swim get down there and help.”

This Minneapolis-area blogger was there and describes the slow, quiet collapse. He concludes: “This was not a bomb.” Metroblogging Minneapolis has more liveblogging/witness reports. CNN reporting 50-100 vehicles have plunged into the river.

Update 9:05pm Eastern. There was a Twins baseball game tonight, and local media report that a lot of the bridge traffic was comprised of fans headed downtown for the game. A Twins game scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled. Three reported dead. Cell phone networks are jammed.

Update 8:40pm Eastern. Minneapolis DOT holding a news conference in about an hour. To make things worse: there’s a severe weather warning…storm moving into the area.

Local Fox affiliate KMSP livestream of the disaster here.

DHS issued a statement that the collapse “does not appear to be an act of terrorism.” Isn’t it too early to say anything meaningful about what it “appears” to be? Couldn’t they maybe, I dunno, say nothing until they actually know something?

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Twin Cities blogger Ed Morrissey: “I have spent the last half-hour finding my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. They’re OK, and now we have to wait to see who isn’t. I’ll be updating this as more details become available…I agree with John [Hinderaker] on another point — bridges like these don’t collapse in the US, especially when they’re only 40 years old. It’s hard to say what could have brought it down, but hopefully the DoT will have more information.”

***

Terrible scene. Photos coming in.

It’s the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River. Worst possible time–evening rush hour. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

It was not clear how many people might be hurt or killed, but witnesses said at least 20 cars were involved.

The crumpled green wreckage of the bridge lay on the east bank of the river, and a huge section of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Down below in the river gorge, rescue workers scrambled to help people on the roadway that now lay in the gorge. Fires burned and black smoke rose billowed the wreckage.

Workers have been repairing the 40-year-old bridge’s surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate.

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

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

Minneapolis-based John Hinderaker at Power Line: “I’ve crossed that bridge hundreds if not thousands of times. One of my brothers-in-law crossed it four times today. From news footage, it looks as though the whole bridge collapsed, more or less in one piece, into the river; there was footage of people walking around on the fallen bridge next to their cars. People have taken their boats onto the river to rescue victims in the water.”

***

There was a bus full of children on the bridge. WCCO:

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.

One bus–not sure if it’s the same one or a different one–carried 60-some children. They all survived. 10 taken to local hospitals.

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