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Victims of Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Recovered

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More victims of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse were recovered from the Mississippi River today. Prior to the recovery, eight people had been listed as missing and presumed dead in the collapse The recoveries bring the known death toll of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse to at least seven. About 100 others were injured during the catastrophe.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, divers searching the Mississippi River recovered the first body sometime after noon on Thursday. Authorities identified the victim as Peter Joseph Hausmann, 47. More remains were brought out of the river at 2:00 p.m. Rescue officials said that those remains could belong to more than one person. The victims were the first recovered from the site of the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse since last week. Twisted wreckage, as well as the Mississippi River’s strong current and poor visibility, had been hampering recovery efforts since the Minneapolis Bridge collapsed last Wednesday night. So far, Navy and FBI dive teams have searched 25,000 square feet in the river. Because of the equipment they use, the Navy and FBI divers have been able to go deeper under the water than the local dive teams could. Still, a spokesman for the Navy told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he expects progress to be slow.

The recovery of the two victims was announced at a briefing this afternoon. Officials said that a total of 88 vehicles have been located at the crash site. Many of those are in the river. Officials also said that they did not believe any homeless people, who where known to live under the Minneapolis Bridge, were trapped beneath the structure when it collapsed. They said that a homeless man who had come to the site to pick up his belongings had given them information that ruled out the chance that any homeless people were caught in the collapse.

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that investigators had found a design flaw on the I-35W Bridge’s gusset plates. The plates help to tie steel beams together. This afternoon the NTSB clarified that the plates were only one of many areas they are looking at. They said they have not discovered anything specific yet that might have caused the collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge.

The collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge had raised awareness across the nation regarding the country’s aging infrastructure. A large number of bridges in the U.S. are rated “structurally deficient” as was the Minneapolis Bridge. Most states do not have the financial resources to repair them all. At a news conference today, President Bush said that he did not favor raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for road repairs, even though it has not been raised since 1993. President Bush said that Congress should first change the way it spends highway funds and allocate more money to repairs.

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