Recovery work resumes at site of collapse, one more body found

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Workers resume their grim task this morning in the ruins of the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

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

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.

The Interstate 35W bridge was first labeled "structurally deficient" in 1990 but officials say that doesn't mean it wasn't safe.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Mark Rosenker says his investigators got some big breaks yesterday with a surveillance video showing the collapse and a computer program that will analyze how the bridge failed.

From the nation’s capital, the federal government has also weighed in on the disaster.

President Bush says the federal government must respond "robustly" to help the people affected by the bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

The administration is sending $5 million right away and the president is promising more money will follow to help rebuild the bridge he calls a transportation lifeline. The House Transportation Committee already has approved $250 million.

First lady Laura Bush tours the disaster site today and meets with victims and families. She will be in Minneapolis on a previously scheduled school tour.

Tomorrow, the president will get his own look at the site of the collapse.

Congress was also quick to react to the news from Minnesota. Some congressional Democrats are blaming a lack of money for maintaining the nation's infrastructure on the war in Iraq.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York says victims of the bridge collapse in Minnesota are "almost victims of war." She says a nation "in perpetual war" doesn't have the money to pay for its road and bridge needs.

The American Society of Civil Engineers warns that tens of thousands of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient. It says repairing them would cost almost 190 billion dollars and take a generation.

Republican Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota is calling for creation of a commission to evaluate the nation's roads, bridges and highways and come up with a plan to fund repairs. He says the disaster in his state is "a call to arms."

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