A little more than an hour ago a major bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis collapsed
Hopefully the loss of life will be small, but given the magnitude of this disaster it could be great. Please try to keep the cellular networks clear unless absolutely necessary if you are in the Minneapolis region. Local hospitals will likely need blood — those able should consider donating.
UPDATE: 7:35 PM: Word is that there have been 21 fatalities so far, but that is as yet unconfirmed. 50+ vehicles are said to be involved. One of them was a schoolbus, but apparently all the children were able to get off and are receiving medical attention.
UPDATE: 7:40 PM: Those still downtown can get free wireless from USI Wireless if they need to communicate with family in the next 12 hours. Those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area should not use their cellphones except for emergencies — please use email or IM if at all possible.;/p>
Storms are expected in the next few hours, which will hamper rescue efforts.
UPDATE: 7:42 PM: The I-35W bridge handles about 200,000 cars per day according to MinDOT. At the time of the collapse, there was a Minnesota Twins baseball game scheduled for tonight — those of us who know what the traffic on that bridge is like before a Twins game can appreciate just how bad this could be.
UPDATE: 7:46 PM: Here is a satellite view of the bridge.
UPDATE: 7:53 PM: Emergency management officials have confirmed 3 dead and at least 20 injuries — unfortunately, the final toll could be much larger.
UPDATE: 8:03 PM: Disasters like this are a reminder that every citizen should have basic First Aid training, thankfully some of the people who were caught in the collapse were able to render immediate assistance to those who needed it. Apparently a civilian directed traffic near the collapse zone for 45 minutes, freeing police to direct traffic.
The Red Cross will be setting up a website so that people can ensure that people can know that their family members are safe. As soon as that is online, I’ll post a link here.
UPDATE: 8:07 PM: The Department of Homeland Security is saying that they have no indication of terrorist involvement with the collapse, but the FBI is investigating just to be sure.
UPDATE: 8:13 PM: HCMC is holding a press conference right now:
22 non-critical patients, 6 critical patients, 1 death. The cause of the death was a drowning, unfortunately. Hennepin County Medical Center is the closest hospital to the collapse zone, others in the area are undoubtedly receiving patients as well.
UPDATE: 8:16 PM: 6 children were taken to Northside Hospital on the north side of the bridge. No word if they’re from the school bus or from other vehicles.
UPDATE: 8:25 PM: Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be arriving at the scene shortly to survey the damage.
The Minneapolis Police Department is saying that no more help is needed at the scene — those wishing to help should be prepared to give blood in the next few days to assist the victims of this tragedy.
UPDATE: 8:31 PM: Fortunately, the storm front in the area is to the northeast, and it looks like the weather won’t hamper the rescue efforts.
UPDATE: 8:46 PM: I have to be downtown tomorrow — fortunately I take the Light Rail Transit system which goes near to the collapse but should be online, but I’d imagine it’s going to be packed. This bridge was part of a major transit route through Minneapolis, the aftereffects of this terrible tragedy will echo through Minneapolis for a long time.
UPDATE: 8:56 PM: The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Twins stadium has been cancelled, as well as tomorrow’s Twins game.
UPDATE: 9:18 PM: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is saying that there were 6 fatalities.
UPDATE: 9:25 PM: A witness to the collapse has said that the bridge collapsed from the center and the ends of the bridge followed.
UPDATE: 9:52 PM: HCMC has reported that no additional casualties have come in — which could be a good sign or a terrible one. We probably won’t have a good idea about casualties until later, and hopefully the death toll won’t go up much more.
UPDATE: 10:23 PM: It appears that the operations at the bridge are shifting from rescue to recovery.
UPDATE: 10:33 PM: The death toll is now at 7.
The Star-Tribune‘s buzz.mn blog has more from James Lileks.
Minnesota blogger Noah of Blanked Out was a witness to the collapse.
Metroblogging Minneapolis has more information, including YouTube videos of local coverage.