PHILADELPHIA, June 12 (Reuters) – Human remains were recovered from a fallen overpass on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia on Monday, as crews removed concrete debris from the site of a fiery weekend highway collapse that closed a stretch of one of the busiest transportation corridors. US East Coast.
The Section of I-95 A tanker truck carrying petrol caught fire on Sunday, causing a concrete curb to collapse, halting both directions. Officials did not say exactly how the fuel was ignited.
As excavation crews worked to clear debris from the site Monday, a body was recovered from the rubble and turned over to the Philadelphia County Medical Examiner for identification, state police said in a statement.
The truck driver, Nathaniel Moody, was not immediately located after the crash, local ABC affiliate WPVI-TV reported.
During the morning commute, local traffic reporters reported bumper-to-bumper traffic near the ramp and on alternate routes, but few motorists appeared to heed warnings to take public transport or stay home.
“Things are getting worse over time,” KYW News Radio Traffic Correspondent Justin Traffic said at 8 a.m. EST (1200 GMT).
He noted that Mondays are typically a low-traffic day. “Tomorrow will be the real test indeed.”
Workers and investigators spent the morning and afternoon surveying the damage at the scene as an excavator moved massive chunks of concrete through the rubble where part of the highway once stood.
Officials said it will take months to rebuild the section of I-95, a major north-south highway on the East Coast that runs from Miami to the Canadian border in Maine.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the federal government is working with the state of Pennsylvania to repair the highway.
“It’s going to be a big disruption in that region,” Buttigieg said. He didn’t specify a precise timetable for the fix, but said “definitely not days. We’re not talking about a couple if weeks.”
The head of the Federal Highway Administration plans to visit the site, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating.
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro issued a disaster declaration Monday, freeing up federal funds to rebuild a stretch of highway used by 160,000 vehicles daily.
He urged residents to find alternatives, take commuter trains or work from home.
Delivery companies UPS ( UPS.N ) and FedEx ( FTX.N ) said they were making the changes.
Buttigieg said the department plans to use emergency relief funds for reconstruction but did not specify the amount.
The closed portion of I-95 is a major route for delivering goods, he said. “It’s not just about the journeys – it’s also the supply chain.”
Andy Herman, a former president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, said the bridges were not designed to withstand the heat of a tanker truck fire, which can exceed 2,000 Fahrenheit (1,090 Celsius), and such incidents are not uncommon.
Herman said Sunday’s collapse will spark a debate about changing bridge design requirements, but it’s hard to see how the U.S. can improve the country’s many overpasses.
“That means they’re looking to maintain the basic safety of the bridges as they deteriorate,” he said.
Reporting by Jared Renshaw in Philadelphia, David Shepherdson in Washington, Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas, and Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing: Jonathan Otis, Lisa Schumacher and Mark Heinrich
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