The cargo ship Dali after it ran into and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday.

Baltimore Bridge-Six workers presumed dead after crippled cargo ship knocks down

BALTIMORE Bridge – One of the busiest ports on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard was forced to close when a big cargo ship disabled by a power outage plowed into the bridge in Baltimore Harbor early on Tuesday, leaving six workers missing and believed dead.


About 18 hours after the accident, active search and rescue activities were halted due to the increasingly dangerous conditions that dive teams were encountering in the dark, wreckage-filled waters, according to officials from the Maryland State Police and U.S. Coast Guard.


Because of the cold water and the amount of time that had passed since the accident, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath stated that there was no chance of locating the missing workers alive.


Colonel Roland Butler of the State Police stated that in an attempt to locate the workers’ remains, authorities planned to send divers back into the river on Wednesday morning.


At at 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT), the container ship Dali, flying the flag of Singapore, struck a support pylon of the Francis Scott Key Bridge across the mouth of the Patapsco River as it was leaving Baltimore Harbor for Sri Lanka.


Tuesday afternoon, Brawner Builders Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pritzker said the missing employees were presumed to have died given the water’s depth and the amount of time that had passed since the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed.


“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”


The company didn’t name the employees, but María del Carmen Castellón told Telemundo 44 her husband, 49-year-old Miguel Luna, is one of them.


While access to the disaster zone is restricted, family members like Castellón were able to get in while they waited for news.


“They only tell us that we have to wait, that for now, they can’t give us information,” she said earlier in the day. “Devastated, devastated because our heart is broken, because we don’t know if they’ve rescued them yet. We’re just waiting to hear any news.”


The men came from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, according to Jesús Campos, who worked for Brawner Builders for years with some of the fatalities. They settled in Dundalk and Highland town.


A solemn-looking Governor Wes Moore of Maryland showed sympathy for the families of the deceased as darkness fell.


He remarked, “I can’t imagine how painful these hours have been, how painful today has been for these families.”


“Even though we’ve transitioned from a search and rescue to now a recovery mission, we will use every asset to make sure they find a sense of closure.”


About 1:30 in the morning, a cargo ship struck the bridge while the crew was patching potholes in the centre of the span, causing the bridge to collapse.


Two labourers were extracted by rescuers from the Patapsco River. One spent hours in the hospital before being released.


Authorities believe that no one was inside the several automobiles that fell into the river.


Sen. Ben Cardin of the United States and Moore offered the families hope during a 3:30 p.m. press conference. According to Moore, the search and rescue effort is still very much on.


The ship is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd., a Singaporean company, which stated that everyone on board, including the two pilots, was safe and that no one had been injured.


Ship was involved in another collision


Earlier, two people were rescued from the water, Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace said. One was in good condition and refused treatment, he said. The other was seriously injured and was being treated in a trauma centre.


Baltimore Bridge
The Dali had just left Point Breeze in Maryland en route to Sri Lanka when it crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Moore said other drivers might have been in the water had it not been for the “folks” who, upon hearing the mayday, blocked off the bridge and kept other vehicles from crossing.


“These people are heroes,” Moore said. “They saved lives.”


Nearly eight years ago, the Dali was involved in an accident. In July 2016, it struck a quay at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Belgium, damaging the quay.


The nautical commission investigated the accident, but the details of the inquiry were not immediately clear Tuesday.


The Dali is operated and managed by Synergy Group. In a statement, the company said that two port pilots were at the helm at the time of Tuesday’s crash and that all 22 crew members onboard were accounted for.


The Dali was chartered by the Danish shipping giant Maersk, which said it will have no choice but to send its ships to other nearby ports with the Port of Baltimore closed.


The bridge, which is about a mile and a half long and carries Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River southeast of Baltimore, was “fully up to code,” Moore said.


National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said that her agency will lead the investigation and that a data recorder on the ship could provide more information.


“But right now we’re focusing on the people, on the families,” she said. “The rest can wait.”


President Joe Biden vowed to rebuild the bridge and send federal funds.


“This is going to take some time,” the president warned. “The people of Baltimore can count on us though to stick with them, at every step of the way, till the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”


Speaking in Baltimore, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg echoed the president’s promise.


“This is no ordinary bridge,” he said. “This is one of the cathedrals of American infrastructure.”


But Buttigieg warned that replacing the bridge and reopening the port will take time and money and that it could affect supply chains.


The Port of Baltimore, the 11th largest in the U.S., is the busiest port for car imports and exports, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023 alone, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.


Baltimore Bridge-The crash’s timeline


The moment that the Dali struck a pillar and sent the bridge falling into the lake on Tuesday at 1:28 a.m. was captured on dramatic video. Just prior to the walkout, vehicles and trucks were visible on the bridge on a webcast. The ship’s lights stayed on and it did not sink.


Baltimore Bridge
A view of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge after a collision with a cargo ship in Baltimore, Maryland, United States on March 26, 2024. According to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA), all lanes are closed in both directions, and traffic is being diverted.

The Dali’s lights abruptly turned off four minutes before they turned back on, according to an investigator’s chronology. At 1:25 a.m., dense, black smoke started to billow from the ship’s chimney.


At 1:26 a.m., a minute later, the ship seemed to turn. And the lights flickered once again in the minutes before it crashed into the support.


Baltimore Bridge-Families of bridge workers wait for updates


Earlier in the day, relatives of the construction crew waited for updates on their loved ones.


Marian Del Carmen Castellon told Telemundo her husband, Miguel Luna, 49, was working on the bridge.


“They only tell us that we have to wait and that they can’t give us information,” she said.


Castellon said she was “devastated, devastated because our heart is broken, because we don’t know how they have been rescued yet. We are just waiting for the news.”


Luna’s co-worker Jesús Campos said he felt crushed, too.


“It hurts my heart to see what is happening. We are human beings, and they are my folks,” he said.


Campos told The Baltimore Banner that the missing men are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.



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