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Minn. bridge death toll rises to 8

Navy divers aid search operation

MINNEAPOLIS -- Divers found another body yesterday in the wreckage of the interstate bridge, bringing the death toll from last week's collapse to at least eight.

The body was found about noon. The pace of recovery has quickened since Navy divers joined an effort led for most of the first week by local dive teams.

At least two bodies, and possibly a third, were recovered Thursday. Authorities were working to identify the most recently recovered remains.

Five people were known dead soon after the Aug. 1 collapse, but eight more were listed as missing and presumed dead. The only recovered victim to be identified this week, Peter Hausmann, 47, of Rosemount, was on that list.

As the search operation continued, US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said she would make $50 million immediately available to help Minnesota authorities with the recovery and cleanup.

The funds are an advance on $250 million approved by Congress but not yet appropriated. They come on top of $5 million in emergency federal aid pledged right after the disaster, and another $5 million to help the local public transit system handle the loss of the heavily used Interstate 35W bridge.

"We want to make sure the state has the resources to move forward," Peters said at a news conference near the wreckage.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Mark Rosenker said investigators obtained a still photograph of the bridge Thursday from someone flying overhead before it fell.

Rosenker said the picture clearly showed where loads and equipment were located on the bridge and will help with the analysis of what caused the structure to collapse.

He said that if investigators identify any "glaring safety gap" that might apply to other bridges they would alert authorities around the country to prevent a similar tragedy.

Navy divers went back into the water about sunrise yesterday, said Senior Chief Dave Nagle, spokesman for the dive team.

"Since we've been here for a few days, they've got a good feel for the area -- some of the places where it is pretty challenging to move around," he said.

On Thursday, the body of Hausmann was the first to be recovered. Divers later found more remains initially thought to have belonged to one person, but authorities later said they may have belonged to two others. Authorities were still working yesterday to identify them.

Baker said it might become more difficult to positively identify remains now that they've been in the water more than a week. Dental records and DNA evidence would be used if needed to identify remains.

The list of missing included a pregnant nursing student and her 2-year-old daughter, and another woman and her adult son, who has Down syndrome.

Nine survivors remained hospitalized yesterday.

The one remaining victim who had been in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center was upgraded to serious condition.

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