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Minneapolis bridge collapse memorial vandalized

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Vandals ripped 22 letters from a memorial dedicated just two days ago to people who died or survived the collapse of a highway bridge over the Mississippi River in 2007, police said on Wednesday.

The memorial, part of a remembrance garden on a bluff overlooking the river, has 13 steel pillars that bear the names of people killed when the bridge collapsed, and a polished black stone wall etched with the names of 171 survivors.

The collapse of the 40-year-old Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis during the evening rush hour on August 1, 2007, heightened concerns about the conditions of bridges across the state and nationally.

A replacement bridge was completed 13 months after the collapse and can be seen from an observation deck near the memorial.

The missing stainless steel letters were part of a message drafted by the survivors and relatives of the dead fastened to the memorial wall. Workers removed the rest of the letters on Wednesday and the city of Minneapolis said it would take about two weeks to restore the message.

The message reads: "Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the face of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events."

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune)