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The Nation

State inspectors checked the Hatchie River bridge near Covington, Tenn., in February but did not send divers into the river to fully examine the pillars that gave way and caused the span to collapse Saturday night, killing at least seven people, officials said. Workers with jackhammers pounded through tons of concrete rubble to clear the way for divers to search the rain-swollen river for more victims of the collapse of the 55-year-old U.S. Highway 51 bridge. A tractor-trailer rig and four cars fell into the water and seven bodies had been recovered. Officials said they believed at least one more body was trapped inside a car, but a huge concrete slab rested atop it. Gov. Ned McWherter said the river eroded dirt and gravel around the pillars of the bridge.


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