8 Reported Missing in Bridge Collapse
Sunday, August 5, 2007; 1:50 AM
MINNEAPOLIS -- Divers spent a third fruitless day searching for victims of a deadly bridge collapse, finding no bodies inside a crushed car pulled earlier Saturday from the murky Mississippi River waters.
Authorities said they had been unable to check at least one other car lying beneath another vehicle on the river bottom. They planned to return to work Sunday with sonar equipment to scan areas upriver and downriver.
An examination of a car lifted onto a barge Saturday "did not find anything in the vehicle in terms of victims or human remains," said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.
Police also released an official list Saturday of the eight people reported missing, matching estimates that had been lowered from the hours immediately after the collapse. The official death toll is five.
In releasing the list, police cautioned that the number could still rise, saying it's possible some victims have not been reported missing.
Investigators have names that haven't been connected to the bridge, and divers and recovery workers have found license plate numbers that don't belong to an identified missing person or survivor, authorities said.
A detailed examination of the wreckage around the southern end of the bridge led investigators to conclude "that is probably not where the event began," said Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The southern end shifted 81 feet during the collapse.
As a result, he said, investigators will use a helicopter mounted with a high-resolution camera _ equipment like that used by Hollywood film crews _ to look for points where the metal was cut, sheared or pulled on the northern end.
Rosenker also announced that the FBI had completed mapping the debris field, which will allow the state transportation department to begin removing cars from the fallen bridge's deck, as well as the deck itself.
Under police escort, families of the missing were bused Saturday from a Red Cross center to the disaster site. When the doors opened, about 40 people streamed out and went straight to the edge, a few with arms wrapped around each other's shoulders.
Most appeared silent, while a few pointed at the collapsed bridge. After no more than 10 minutes, they reboarded the buses, some hugging as they left to return to the temporary Red Cross center.
The Associated Press earlier identified five of the missing, who all appeared on the police list: Christine Sacorafas, 45, a recent transplant to Minnesota who was on her way to teach a Greek folk dancing class; Greg Jolstad, 45, a construction worker who was operating a skid loader on the bridge; Peter Hausmann, 47, a former missionary heading to pick up a friend; and Somali immigrant Sadiya Sahal, 23, a pregnant nursing student traveling with her 2-year-old daughter, Hanah.