State inspectors warned of structural problems that authorities now suspect may have caused the collapse of a bridge over the Hatchie River that killed eight people April 1, it was reported.

The Commercial Appeal newspaper said state Transportation Department records show those structural deficiencies, including "scouring," of the U.S. 51 bridge were detected during inspections in 1985 and 1987.The bridge, about 45 miles north of Memphis, is a two-lane structure built in 1934. It has been serving as the northbound span since a southbound bridge was completed about 10 years ago.

State Transportation Commissioner Jimmy Evans said two days after the collapse that it was caused by "scouring," which occurs when river currents wash the soil away from bridge supports.

The Commercial Appeal said records show the span was inspected in 1985 and 1987, and that inspectors recommended structural problems be repaired. The newsaper said the bridge inspection reports in Nashville show no indication the recommendations were followed.

Maintenance reports kept in Jackson have been turned over to the attorney general's office and were not available.

The National Transportation Safety Board has asked to see the records, which could show if and when the structural deficiencies were repaired.

William Moore Jr., the state transportation department's civil engineering director in Jackson, said as far as he knows, no major maintenance has been done on the bridge in the past several years.