August 2, 2007 2:00 PM, EDT

Minn. Highway Bridge Collapse Kills At Least Four, Injures Dozens

Death Toll May Rise, Officials Say

An interstate highway bridge jammed with rush-hour traffic collapsed into the Mississippi River in Minneapolis late Wednesday, thowing dozens of vehicles into the water and killing at least four people, the Associated Press reported.

The eight-lane I-35W bridge, a major artery, was being repaired and two lanes in each direction were closed when the bridge buckled, AP said.

The National Transportation Safety Board dispatched a team of investigators to Minneapolis and the Department of Homeland Security said the collapse did not appear to be terrorism-related, AP reported.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Thursday that DOT will offer $5 million in immediate federal funding repair the bridge.

“We are going to make sure that last night’s damage and debris soon become a thing of the past. We will rebuild this bridge and repair this horrible hole in the heart of this community,” she said

President Bush said Thursday morning that “the federal government must respond robustly to help the people there not only recover, but to make sure that lifeline of activity . . . gets rebuilt as quickly as possible.”

After initial reports of seven dead Wednesday night, the number of confirmed fatalities was lowered to four early Thursday, one police official told MSNBC. Authorities said the exact death toll could rise throughout Thursday, the network reported on its Web site.

By Transport Topics

Senior Reporter Sean McNally contributed to this story.