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Police ID 8 still missing after Minnesota bridge collapse

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Police: Eight "reliably placed in the area," but list isn't definitive
  • NEW: Investigation shifts to span's north side; high-quality images to help
  • State transportation spokesman says bridge may be rebuilt by late 2008
  • Construction timetable will depend on pace of debris removal
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) -- As investigators probed what caused an interstate bridge packed with rush-hour traffic to collapse into the Mississippi River this week, Minneapolis police Saturday night issued a statement naming the eight people -- including a 2-year-old girl -- still missing in the murky waters.


The missing include, clockwise from top left, Christina Sacorafas, Sadia and Hannah Sahal, Richard Chit, Vera Peck and Greg Jolstad.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Richard Chit, Peter Hausmann, Greg Jolstad, Vera Peck, Christina Sacorafas, Sadia Adam Sahal, Hannah Sahal and Scott Sathers as they anxiously await any news," the police statement said.

Hannah Sahal, 2, was riding in a car with her mother, Sadia Adam Sahal, police said.

Authorities said only those eight had been "reliably placed in the area of the bridge collapse" on Interstate 35W, but said the list should not be considered definitive. "A larger list of those reported missing, but not yet definitively connected to the bridge remains with investigators," the statement said.

"As we move through the recovery operation and investigation, we want to remain focused on the unique stories of the people involved," police said. Chit, 21, was in the car with his mother, Peck; Hausmann was driving to pick up a friend; Jolstad was working on the bridge construction project; and Sacorafas was on her way to dance class, but had left a voice mail message saying she was delayed by traffic and running late.

Meanwhile, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday that federal investigators finished inspecting the south side of the collapsed bridge, helping to clear the way for the state of Minnesota to begin moving damaged cars and debris to secure areas.

In addition, said Mark Rosenker, NTSB chairman, a camera aboard an FBI helicopter produced a high-definition, three-dimensional image Saturday of the center portion of the bridge and other areas impossible to reach on the ground.

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Rosenker said nothing significant was discovered on the south side of the bridge, and attention was now shifting to the north, which buckled vertically. The FBI images will be a great aid, he said.

Investigators say the south side probably didn't contribute to the collapse, he added. The bridge's southern end shifted and fell on the ground. Photo See photos of the aftermath of the disaster »

The vehicles, some of which remain on the bridge deck, will be examined for clues to how people may have died or been injured, Rosenker said.

"That will be an important part of the final report" on the cause of the disaster, he said. In addition, state workers can begin removing the deck of the bridge.

"As they begin to take the deck away, the superstructure will remain in the water. And then they will begin bringing up the superstructure. We have to do that in a way that preserves anything that gives us a good indication of what happened in the center portion of the bridge span," Rosenker said.

The superstructure will be examined under water, he said.

Rosenker said that he planned to return to Washington on Sunday but that his investigators will remain, partly to supervise the removal of debris. Evidence will be shipped back to the NTSB lab in Washington for analysis, he said.

Teams will move debris of interest to a staging area a few hundred yards from the bridge, where it can be studied further, the director said.

"Overall, we continue to make progress ... but small measures of progress," Rosenker said. He said it will be a few days before the superstructure is removed.

Earlier Saturday, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation predicted a contract for rebuilding the span would be signed by mid-September.

The new structure could open late next year, said Bob McFarlin.

Construction will start as soon as possible after the contract is awarded, he told reporters, but the timetable will depend on how quickly debris can be removed.

The Senate passed a bill Friday night that would authorize up to $250 million for rebuilding, and the measure was in the House on Saturday. If approved, it will go to President Bush for his signature.

McFarlin said Congress would appropriate the money in September or October.

Five people were killed in the disaster, and at least eight are missing -- thought to be trapped in submerged cars or under debris.

Divers continued their grim search at the site Saturday but were being brought up from time to time so debris could be cleared, said Sgt. Tracey Martin of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. Diving operations were to continue until nightfall, she said.

President Bush surveyed the huge chunks of concrete and twisted metal Saturday and pledged the federal government would "eliminate roadblocks" and "cut through paperwork" to rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible. Video Watch Susan Roesgen's report on Bush's visit »

"I bring prayers from the American people to those who have suffered loss of life as a result of the collapse of the 35W bridge in the Twin Cities. I bring prayers to those who wonder whether they'll ever see a loved one again," Bush said.


"I have met with the chief of police and the sheriff and rescue workers -- people who represent men and women working as hard as they possibly can to save life and to find life -- to go under these murky waters to find the facts. And it's going to take awhile.

"I have been impressed not only by their determination but by their compassion," the president added. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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