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Our View: Questions, but first prayers

First came the shock: A span of Interstate 35 -- the same highway that calls Duluth its northern terminus -- collapsed into the Mississippi River at about 6:05 p.m. yesterday in Minneapolis during the height of rush hour. Some cars remained on th...

First came the shock: A span of Interstate 35 -- the same highway that calls Duluth its northern terminus -- collapsed into the Mississippi River at about 6:05 p.m. yesterday in Minneapolis during the height of rush hour. Some cars remained on the bridge's deck, but others were sent tumbling into the water.

Early reports attempted to describe the indescribable. "All you could see was thick, black smoke," Duluth's Ken Buehler, in Minneapolis with St. Louis County lobbbyist John Ongaro, said of the scene they witnessed from the Hennepin Avenue bridge about a mile away.

"The helicopters weren't getting in," he continued. "They were back further away than we were."

In time will come the questions: How could such a tragedy happen? When was the bridge last inspected? What do the inspection reports say? Could bridges elsewhere be in danger of collapse? In what sort of shape are the many bridges in Duluth and across the Northland?

All those questions must be answered, and will be -- in time. The lasting image of the thick black smoke rising from the bridge as at least one vehicle burned on the cement below served as more than adequate motivation.

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For now, however, the focus must remain on the victims of yesterday's accident. Caring for any survivors. Mourning those who may have perished.

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