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Interstate 5 bridge collapses in NW Wash.; people in water

11:30 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
Photo courtesy KING
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(USA TODAY) -- The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in northern Washington state collapsed Thursday evening, sending vehicles and people into the water, the state patrol said.

Trooper Mark Francis told USA Today that two lanes in both directions collapsed.

No cause was known at this time, he said, and it was unknown how many vehicles were in the water or if there were deaths or injuries.

Interstate 5 is closed in both directions now, he said.

The collapse occurred around 7 p.m. PT, he said. The location is near Mount Vernon, Wash., in Skagit County, about an hour's drive north of Seattle.

A Skagit Valley Herald reporter at the scene said a sheriff's office rescue boat has arrived and rescue crews were looking for people in the water, the Associated Press reported. The reporter saw one person sitting atop one vehicle in the water and could see a second vehicle as well.

Crowds of people lined the river to watch the scene unfold, the newspaper reported.

KOMO-TV aired video from a helicopter showing the collapsed bridge with rescuers working from shore and a motorboat to search for people.

A truck and automobile could be seen in the water on the collapsed bridge section.

The river did not appear to be deep or fast-flowing at the time of the collapse. KOMO said the depth appeared to be about 10 feet.

KOMO reported that at least two people were taken to a hospital.

The bridge is the main route for traffic between the Seattle metro area and Vancouver, Canada.

The Seattle Times reported that bridge was built in 1955 and was classified by the National Bridge Inventory as "functionally obsolete" in both 2000 and 2010. But it said the Washington Department of Transportation does not list it among its list of "structurally deficient bridges."

Contributing: Associated Press


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