The last word I heard on the bridge collapse in Minneapolis is that about 50 people are injured, with 3 confirmed deaths. (H/t Drudge.) The reason behind the bridge’s collapse is currently a mystery, so I won’t comment or speculate. I’ll only say that I hope that the above numbers, which are bad enough as they stand, are the full extent of the injured and dead, and that my thoughts are with all those affected by this dreadful occurrence.
UPDATE: Sadly, and unsurprisingly, the numbers are going up, with the current tally of those who have died standing at 6. The best news out of all of this is that of the school bus driver, who had just crossed the bridge before the collapse happened, successfully stopped the bus from rolling backwards, and then safely evacuated the children under his/her care.
There’s currently a lot of speculation about whether this was a terrorist attack, especially given the fact that the bridge passed an inspection last year. No one seems to have heard the sound of an explosion, however, so any terrorism would have had to be very subtle.
I don’t know why, and I’m sure it’s unrelated and reflects only my profound ignorance about engineering matters, but I keep thinking about the time the Hyatt hotel walkway in Missouri collapsed in 1981, killing 114 people and injury more than 200. Although the building had passed inspection, it proved to have a fatal design flaw, one that nobody thought about at the time. The fact is that, sometimes, badly built or wrongly designed structures look great right until the moment they’re gone.
Maybe it reflects my parochial coastal viewpoint, but I also don’t see this bridge as a terrorist target. Al Qaeda has proven that it likes capital cities and it likes big symbols. In that regard, although God forbid it should ever happen, the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge, or any number of other symbolic American bridges would seem to be the more likely targets (although, admittedly, also the more difficult to attack).
UPDATE II: James Lileks is also inclined, as of now, towards the construction failure theory:
No one is ascribing the collapse to the construction, but am I the only person to think that it might be a factor, somehow? It’s odd how the mind wants explanations like that; they help make sense of the unbelievable, because we simply don’t want to think that things like this happen for reasons that have been decades in the making.