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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS - The southbound lanes of the Causeway Bridge are still shut down after an eyewitness reported seeing a truck burst into flames and then drive off the bridge into Lake Pontchartrain.

Causeway officials say that the truck is submerged. The crash shut down the causeway during rush hour and divers are working hard to get to that truck.

'It's three hours plus, I'm afraid it's turning into a recovery,' said Carlton Dufrechou, the general manager of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office sent in two boats with divers Wednesday night to help in search and rescue efforts. Just after 8 p.m. a boat returned to the Bonnabel boat landing empty handed.

A Causeway official confirms JPSO's dive team didn't have the right equipment to reach a truck still submerged in Lake Pontchartrain.

Dufrechou says an eyewitness reported seeing a truck burst into flames just after 5 p.m. and then knock out part of the guardrail before plummeting into Lake Pontchartrain.

Pictures taken by one eyewitness viewer, Molly Bolding, show a plume of smoke and emergency responders attempting to reach the driver.

The crash shut the Causeway down in both directions for at least an hour and caused traffic to be backed up for Northshore evening commuters. So far, rescuers have been unsuccessful in reaching that submerged truck.

'There is significant damage to the southbound bridge at the 5 mile marker in excess of 100 feet of railing that is just part of the bridge. There's definitely a vehicle in the water,' said Dufrechou.

Causeway officials say they did look over surveillance video at the Northshore toll plaza and spotted two trucks get onto the Causeway about 20 minutes before the crash.

Once search and rescue efforts are over, the southbound lanes of the Causeway will reopen, and officials don't expect the morning commute to be impacted, but Causeway officials say closures may happen again Thursday when search continues.

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