Divers find another body in Minn. bridge collapse, bringing death toll to at least 8

By MARTIGA LOHN Associated Press Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Divers removed another body from the wreckage of a freeway bridge Friday, while the federal transportation secretary offered $50 million to help with recovery and rebuilding.

The known death toll from last week's collapse reached eight when Navy divers found a body about noon.

The body belonged to Sadiya Sahal, 23, of St. Paul. A body found Thursday was identified as her 2-year-old daughter, Hanah Sahal. Both had been on the list of missing.

Those identifications reduce the list of known missing and presumed dead to five. The medical examiner had initially said remains found Thursday might have belonged to two people, but later clarified that one set of remains was recovered Thursday and another on Friday.

During her visit, Secretary Mary Peters stood near a fallen section of the bridge cluttered by wrecked cars as she announced the latest emergency aid.

The funds are an advance on $250 million approved by Congress but not yet appropriated. The money comes on top of $5 million in federal emergency aid pledged right after the Aug. 1 bridge collapse and $5 million to help the public transit system handle the loss of the heavily traveled span.

The secretary later stopped by a bus garage to promise another $5 million for transit. Transit officials have added express bus routes since the collapse and said the federal money will help cover the costs.

The Interstate 35W bridge carried 140,000 vehicles a day, making it one of Minnesota's busiest. The pace of recovery has quickened since Navy divers joined local dive teams.

At least two bodies, and possibly a third, were recovered Thursday.

On Thursday, the body of Peter Hausmann, 47, was the first to be recovered. Divers later in the day found the remains of Hanah Sadal, and on Friday they found the body of her mother.

Sadiya Sahal, who was five months pregnant, was on her way to pick up a friend who needed a ride to work when the bridge collapsed.

The nursing student had moved to the Twin Cities from Somalia in 2000. Crews using cranes and flatbed tow trucks removed cars from the north end of the bridge.

The federal money will help pay for dive operations, debris removal, preparation for reconstruction, traffic detours and other costs, Peters said.

Investigators received a still photograph of the bridge taken by someone flying overhead before it fell, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker said Thursday.

He said that the picture clearly showed where loads and equipment were on the bridge, and that it will help with the analysis of what caused the collapse.

If investigators identify any "glaring safety gap" that might apply to other bridges, Rosenker said, they will alert authorities nationwide to prevent a similar tragedy.

County Medical Examiner Andrew 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 will be used if needed, he said. The list of missing includes a woman and her adult son, who has Down syndrome.

Nine survivors remained hospitalized Friday. The one remaining victim who had been in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center was upgraded to serious condition Friday morning, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Eight survivors are still hospitalized at HCMC - five in serious condition and three in satisfactory condition - while one remained at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in good condition.

--- Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski and Archie Ingersoll contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)