MSNBC staff and news service reports
MINNEAPOLIS - A busy highway bridge that spans the Mississippi River just northeast of Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour Wednesday, sending a school bus, other vehicles and tons of concrete crashing into the water.
The entire span of the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed about 6:05 p.m. A tractor-trailer caught fire, and flame and black smoke billowed into the sky.
Local media reported 20 to 30 injuries and one death. NBC News reported that every Minneapolis ambulance had been requested to the scene.
A burning truck and a school bus clung to one slanted slab, while at least eight cars and a truck were submerged in the river.
The school bus reportedly had just crossed the bridge before the bridge crumpled into pieces, and local broadcast reports indicated the children, none of whom were injured, exited out the back door of the bus.
Local television stations captured video of injured people being carried up the riverbank. Divers were also in the water.
Some people were stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.
A nursing supervisor at Hennepin County Medical Center interviewed by local WCCO radio said, "We have multiple patients. Some critical, some non-critical.”
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said there is no reason to think that terrorism was involved in the collapse, NBC News' Pete Williams reported.
911 caller reacts
Workers have been repairing the 40-year-old bridge's surface all summer along that stretch of the interstate, StarTribune.com reported. The arched bridge rises about 64 feet above the river.
One 911 caller said she could see the construction workers using a jackhammers when the bridge collapsed close to her car. "She saw it and she said she just gunned it and just made it out of there," Tashia Brown, a 911 operator, told the StarTribune.com.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation told local media that 200,000 cars a day use the bridge.
'It shook the ground'
Ramon Houge of St. Paul was on his way home from work at Wells Fargo and was driving on the bridge when heard a rumbling noise, saw the ground collapse and cars go down, StarTribune.com reported.
“It didn’t seem like it was real,” he said. Traffic was bumper to bumper and hundreds of people would have been involved, he told the Star Tribune, adding that he saw kids on a bus with blood on their faces.
Sarah Fahnhorst, who lives in an apartment a block away from the bridge, heard a huge thud and then “the entire building shook. It shook the ground,” she told the Star Tribune.
StarTribune.com reported that many vehicles were trying to get to the 7:10 p.m. CT Twins game at the nearby Metrodome.
NBC News, The Star Tribune, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.