The 35W South Interstate bridge near the University of Minnesota crumbled into the Mississippi River at 6 PM today.
Click here for photos.
Last Updated at 4:22 PM, 8/2/2007
Middle of rush-hour, dozens of cars plunged into the water off of a half-mile long, 65 ft high bridge that fell into a very dangerous, currently shallow river less than a quarter of a mile in front of a fully-operational dam. Here are the bridge specs.
This is a very heavily traveled route. I've driven it more times than I can count. It's right by Dan's house, right by the U, and goes right through dowontown. This is insane.
The road was under construction for cosmetic repair and replacing guard rails and lighting. No less than 18 construction workers were on the bridge when it fell, and most were free standing. Seven are injured and one is missing.
Cars disappeared in the muddy, brown current. A school bus full of 60 passengers, mostly kids, almost fell in but was pinned against the rail by a semi-trailer that caught fire. Everyone escaped safely.
The bridge and debris fell right onto the West and East river parkways and the bike trails, and crushing cars on those roads. There is a train pinned beneath the wreckage.
They've got rescue workers, medical teams, dozens of troopers and Minneapolis police on the scene, and thankfully the University hospital is only a few blocks away, but there are a lot of injured people. Medical practitioners and police staff from surrounding suburbs are coming in to help. Divers are already in the water. As of 8:30 AM there are 4 reported deaths, over 60 injured, and 20 people are missing. At least 50 cars fell into the river, and the death toll is expected to rise as those vehicles are recovered.
This disaster is being compared to an earthquake in California... except in California there are no cold, swiftly running rivers. Witnesses and survivors say it felt like a jack-hammer for a few seconds, and then fell instantaneously.
Heavy incoming calls from concerned friends and relatives have shut down cell phone towers due to intense traffic. According to KSTP, the city of Minneapolis is providing 12 hours of free wi-fi so citizens can attempt to contact their loved ones.
This will continue to update as more information comes in.
ETA: Oh, and there are severe thunderstorms on the way.