911 tapes tell unfolding horror of bridge collapse

A section of the collapsed bridge.
A section of the collapsed I-35W bridge.
Submitted photo by Steve Winckelman

The Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center released tapes and transcripts of some 40 calls on Friday, detailing the disaster's first few minutes.

About 100 people had called within two minutes of the 6:05 p.m. collapse. By then, dispatchers who showed initial disbelief at the first reports were crisply telling callers that help was on the way.

Traffic was bumper to bumper when the bridge buckled, throwing cars 60 feet into the river below. The collapse killed 13 people and injured about 100.

The 911 tapes were released Friday in response to public records requests from news media including The Associated Press. The cause of the bridge's collapse hasn't been determined; the National Transportation Safety Board and a private firm retained by the state are investigating.