MINNEAPOLIS – The I-35W highway bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during evening rush hour Wednesday, killing at least six people.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak comfirmed the deaths during an evening press conference.
Dr. Joseph Clinton of Hennepin County Medical Center confirmed at least one death was due to drowning and his staff was treating six people for critical injuries and at least 22 people for minor injuries.
Authorities tell FOX News that between 20 to 30 people may fell into the river while KARE-TV reports at least 50 vehicles may have plunged in the water.
Tons of concrete have collapsed and survivors are being carried up the riverbank. Both the northbound and southbound lanes of 35W are lying in the Mississippi River, according to local CBS TV affiliate WCCO.com.
Pieces of bridge wreckage lay on the east bank of the river, while large portions of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Rescuers are scrambling to help people caught on parts of the roadway in the river gorge, according to the Star-Tribune.com.
There are multiple cars still in the river and a couple cars on fire. According to one witness, there was a school bus full of children on the bridge. MyFOX9 reports that the school bus landed on all fours after the collapse and all the children are safe.
One witness says she saw a a construction worker "flying in the air" and another man noticed a big hole in the bridge earlier in the day.
Federal officials and local reports are downplaying the likelihood of terrorism as a cause for the bridge damage.
"We are monitoring the situation through state and local authorities," said Homeland Security Department Spokesman Russ Knocke. "At this time, it does not appear to be an act of terrorism. There has been construction activity in the area, and all signs point to this being a construction or engineering issue."
Star-Tribune.com reported that workers have been performing construction on the 40-year-old bridge’s surface as part of an interstate improvement project.
The eight-lane, 1,950-feet-long bridge located near University Avenue connects downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota.
The entire span of the 35W bridge collapsed at about 6:05 p.m. where the freeway crosses the river near University Avenue.
Some people are stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.
A tractor-trailer was on fire at the collapse scene.
Refresh the page for updates on this developing story.