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Bridge search ends for day with no luck

MINNEAPOLIS – Divers spent a third fruitless day searching for victims of a deadly bridge collapse, finding no bodies inside a crushed car pulled earlier Saturday from the murky Mississippi River waters.

Authorities said they had been unable to check at least one other car lying beneath another vehicle on the river bottom. They planned to return to work Sunday with sonar equipment to scan areas upriver and downriver.

An examination of a car lifted onto a barge Saturday “did not find anything in the vehicle in terms of victims or human remains,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Police also released an official list Saturday of the eight people reported missing, matching estimates that had been lowered from the hours immediately after the collapse. The official death toll is five.

In releasing the list, police cautioned that the number could still rise, saying it’s possible some victims have not been reported missing.

Investigators have names that haven’t been connected to the bridge, and divers and recovery workers have found license plate numbers that don’t belong to an identified missing person or survivor, authorities said.

A detailed examination of the wreckage around the southern end of the bridge led investigators to conclude “that is probably not where the event began,” said Mark Rosenker, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The southern end shifted 81 feet during the collapse.

As a result, he said, investigators will use a helicopter mounted with a high-resolution camera equipment like that used by Hollywood film crews to look for points where the metal was cut, sheared or pulled on the northern end.

Rosenker also announced that the FBI had completed mapping the debris field, which will allow the state transportation department to begin removing cars from the fallen bridge’s deck, as well as the deck itself.

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