August 6, 2007 in Nation/World

Minnesotans honor victims of collapse

James Janega Chicago Tribune
 
Associated Press photo

Heather Harden prays during a memorial at Gold Medal Park for victims and families of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse Sunday in Minneapolis. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

MINNEAPOLIS – As the human cost of last week’s interstate bridge collapse became clear, two crowds gathered Sunday to bear witness to the Twin Cities’ grief.

One filled the Romanesque pile of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, where members of the Minnesota Orchestra and other ensembles performed mournful and uplifting works, where religious leaders led interfaith prayers, and where dozens of volunteers parked hundreds of cars.

The other climbed a grassy hilltop near the collapse site, slowly and quietly crowning it in floral bouquets. Neighbors came to see the wreckage in tribute to the victims and rescuers.

Minnesotans seemed determined to prove that their community was bigger than the crumpled wreckage of the bridge.

“We just wanted to connect with it more, to witness it, to be part of it,” said Judie Liszt, 54, of Minnetonka, who went to the hilltop site with her family after synagogue services Sunday.

Investigators on Sunday said a final report on the cause of the collapse could be as much as a year and a half away, while the complexity and precariousness of the debris continued to slow their efforts.

And the Minnesota Department of Transportation said it expects to spend as much as $15 million to remove vehicles and bridge wreckage, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

Divers conducted their cautious search of the swirling waters around the wrecked span, and the first debris will soon be removed, authorities said. The death toll as of Sunday afternoon remained at five, with eight people confirmed as missing.


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