Mourners to hold vigil as divers continue searching river

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- Hundreds were expected at an interfaith service Sunday to remember the victims and pray for the missing in a devastating bridge collapse, while divers returned to the water to look for bodies amid debris and sunken cars.

A few hours after dawn, clusters of people climbed a hill in a park that offered a distant view of the wreckage of the Interstate 35W bridge.

A few bouquets of flowers had been laid at a memorial, and police were transferring some other items and signs that had been left near the site, including one handwritten sign: "Thank you, God, you saved + spared many lives."

"It's pretty sobering," said Andy Taylor, of suburban Richfield. "It's sad to think that people are still risking their lives to clean everything up."

Divers have not found any victims since Thursday in the wreckage, frustrating some families waiting for news about the eight people still missing. Federal investigators said Sunday they've given state officials the go-ahead to remove some of the debris from the water, a move likely to speed up the recovery process.

The effort has been complicated by murky, glass-filled water, debris and strong currents. It was unclear when the debris removal would begin.

"This is not a process that will happen overnight," National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said. "It's going to be a very difficult effort to do safely."

On Saturday, families of the missing briefly toured the disaster site. After the visit, they better understood "the challenges that the rescuers are facing now that they've seen it first hand," said Melanie Tschida, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

"That has been one of the ongoing frustrations all along -- the lack of information and just the kind of endless wait of getting answers," she said.

At least five people were killed and about 100 injured when the bridge fell Wednesday. Police late Saturday released an official list of eight people still missing, matching estimates that had been lowered from the dozens feared dead in the hours immediately after the tragedy.

The interfaith service, scheduled for Sunday evening at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, was to include songs and prayers for the victims and missing. Money raised will be distributed to victims' families.

Police have cautioned the number of missing could still rise because 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.

Among the missing are Vera Peck and her son, Richard Chit, who were in the same car. Family members said Richard Chit had Down syndrome, making him virtually inseparable from his mother.

"One of them wouldn't survive without the other so maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be," sister Caroline Chit told MSNBC through tears.

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She and her sister said that Richard was about to turn 21. Authorities listed his age as 21.

The other six are Scott Sathers, 29, who worked at Capella University, an online school; Christine Sacorafas, 45, a new resident to Minnesota who taught Greek folk dancing class; Greg Jolstad, 45, a construction worker who was operating a skid loader on the bridge; Peter Hausmann, 47, a computer security specialist; and Somali immigrant Sadiya Sahal, 23, a pregnant nursing student, and her 2-year-old daughter, Hanah.

Of the roughly 100 injured in the collapse, 24 remained hospitalized Saturday, five in critical condition.

Divers found no bodies inside a crushed car pulled earlier Saturday from the murky Mississippi River waters. They were unable to check at least one other car lying beneath another vehicle on the river bottom.

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