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Military Support Continues in Minneapolis Bridge Recovery Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2007 – Defense Department forces assisting with search-and-recovery operations at the site of the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis are continuing their efforts around the clock. (Video)

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Members of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., swim through debris searching for victims of the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Andrew McKaskle, USN

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The westbound span of the Interstate 35 bridge across the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis collapsed Aug. 1 during the evening rush hour. Eleven people are confirmed killed, and two more still are missing. Divers are continuing to search for remains in the river beneath the rubble.

Recovery operations are ongoing as U.S. Navy divers conduct rigging operations with onsite contractors, U.S. Northern Command officials said. The contractors, hired by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, are using heavy equipment to cut through the debris, which will provide access to remaining vehicles. The divers continue to assess their best access points to remaining vehicles as debris is removed, officials said.

“Recovery operations will continue as part of a larger team effort, with safety being a paramount concern during debris removal and dive operations,” said Army Col. Michael Chesney, the defense coordinating officer and on-scene commander for Defense Department assets involved in the recovery efforts. “We are here to help and provide support to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office as long as we are requested.”

Chesney said he is impressed with the spirit of cooperation among agencies participating in the recovery operations.

“As I observe the (Navy) divers working in partnership with the contractors removing debris, it demonstrates the joint effort being put forth by everyone as we continue 24/7 recovery operations,” he said.

Defense Department assets assisting in this effort include a Defense Coordinating Element augmented with personnel from U.S. Army North, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, from Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va. They have been in Minneapolis since Aug. 6, at the request of the U.S. Department of Transportation and in support of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

(From a U.S. Northern Command news release.)

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Related Sites:
U.S. Northern Command

Related Articles:
Defense Coordinating Element Provides Assistance in Minneapolis
Military Helps Recovery Effort in Minnesota Bridge Collapse

Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Department personnel work in Minneapolis at the I-35 bridge collapse site over the Mississippi River, Aug. 14, 2007. Defense Department personnel continue to assist other federal, state, and local authorities in the recovery efforts at the site. UPhoto by Seaman Joshua Adam Nuzzo, USN  
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