COVINGTON, Tenn. — Divers on Sunday pulled four more bodies from a murky, rain-swollen river, where at least seven people died when a 50-year-old U.S. highway bridge collapsed about 50 miles north of Memphis.
The search for more victims continued but was hampered by bridge debris and muddy waters, state Highway Patrol Lt. Larry Durham said.
Authorities said they had found a tractor-trailer rig and four cars that plunged into the river when a large chunk of the two-lane roadway fell 25 feet into the river Saturday night. Three of the bodies were recovered Saturday night.
Searchers did not know how many more victims might be in the river, said Leroy Bledsoe, teamdirector for nine divers working at the site.
They planned to continue to search "until we're sure there are no other vehicles or victims in there," Bledsoe said.
The collapse left a 60-foot gap in the two-lane, northbound bridge carrying U.S. 51 over the Hatchie River. A companion, two-lane bridge for southbound traffic was unaffected.
The Hatchie River, swollen by flooding rains, apparently eroded the concrete base of the bridge and caused the collapse, said Bill Moore, regional engineer for the state Transportation Department.
"It undermined the foundation. That would be a logical explanation," Moore said.
Transportation Department officials said a recent report graded 46% of Tennessee bridges as deficient, but Moore said the Hatchie bridge was thought to be structurally sound. It was last inspected in September, 1987.