Divers search for six dead after bridge collapse in Baltimore Harbor


By Mike Sager and Gabriella Borter

BALTIMORE (Reuters) – Search divers are expected to return on Wednesday morning to the waters around the shattered ruins of a bridge that collapsed when a cargo ship lurched into Baltimore Harbor, leaving six crewmen missing and presumed dead.

The disaster caused the indefinite closure of the Port of Baltimore, one of the busiest ports on the US Eastern Seaboard, and created a traffic crisis for Baltimore and the surrounding region.

As their chances of survival faded, the search for the six workers was called off Tuesday evening, 18 hours after they were dumped into the frigid waters at the mouth of the Patapsco River from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Maryland State Police and U.S. Coast Guard officials said reduced visibility and increasingly dangerous currents in the debris-filled channel made it too risky to continue the overnight search on the river.

“At 6 a.m. (1000 GMT) on Wednesday we expect to get divers into the water and begin a more detailed search to do their best to recover the six missing people,” state police Colonel Roland Butler told reporters late last night. Are.” Tuesday

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A Maka indigenous woman applies makeup before protesting for the recovery of ancestral lands in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.  Leader Mateo Martínez has condemned that the Paraguayan state has built a bridge on his land in El Chaco's Bartolomé de las Casas, Presidente Hayes Department.  (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

“We are not confident we will find any of these individuals alive,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said at the briefing.

Rescue workers pulled two other workers alive from the water on Tuesday and one of them was admitted to hospital. According to the Mexican Consulate in Washington, the six killed included workers from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Officials said all eight people were part of a work crew repairing potholes in the Key Bridge’s road surface when the Singapore-flagged container ship, bound for Sri Lanka from Baltimore, sank at about 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT). Fell into support pylon. ,

A 1.6-mile (2.6 km) stretch almost immediately collapsed into the icy water, sending vehicles and workers into the river.

The 948-foot (289 m) ship had reported a lack of propulsion shortly before the collision and dropped anchor to slow the ship, giving transportation officials time to stop traffic on the bridge before the accident. Officials said the move could prevent a higher death toll.

It was unclear whether officials had attempted to alert the work crew before impact.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore said at a news briefing Tuesday that the bridge was up to code with no known structural issues. Officials said there was no evidence of foul play.

The Baltimore accident drew attention to the ship’s safety record. The same ship was involved in an incident in 2016 in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, when it collided with a pier as it was trying to exit the North Sea container terminal.

An inspection carried out in Chile in 2023 found deficiencies in “propulsion and auxiliary machinery”, according to data from the public Equisys website, which provides information on ships.

But the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said in a statement that the ship passed two separate foreign-port inspections in June and September 2023. It said a faulty fuel pressure gauge was fixed before the ship departed from port following a June 2023 inspection.

Video footage on social media shows the ship hitting the Key Bridge in the dark, headlights of vehicles visible as it crashes into the water and the ship burst into flames.

All 22 crew members on the vessel, owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd, were accounted for, its management company, Synergy Marine Pte Ltd, said.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the port closure would have a “major and long-term impact on supply chains.” The Port of Baltimore handles more automobile freight than any other U.S. port — more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022, according to port data, as well as containers and bulk cargo ranging from sugar to coal.

Still, economists and logistics experts said they doubted the port closures would cause a major U.S. supply chain crisis or lead to a large increase in the price of goods because of ample capacity at rival shipping hubs along the Eastern Seaboard.

The damage to the bridge also disrupted roadways into Baltimore, forcing motorists to detour to two other congested port crossings and disrupting daily commutes and regional traffic for months or even years to come. The fear of nightmare increased.

The bridge, named after the author of the Star-Spangled Banner, carries approximately 31,000 vehicles daily across the harbor and serves as a major thoroughfare between New York and Washington for motorists seeking to avoid Baltimore City. Works as. It opened in 1977.

President Joe Biden promised to visit Baltimore, 40 miles (64 km) away, as soon as Tuesday and said he wanted the federal government to pay for the bridge’s reconstruction.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said a team of 24 agency personnel was on the scene to investigate the crash. He said Singaporean security personnel would reach Baltimore on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s disaster could be the worst US bridge collapse since 2007, when the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.

(Reporting by Mike Sager in Baltimore. Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter, Joseph Campbell, Andy Sullivan, Daniel Trotta, Andrea Shalal, David Shepherdson, Steve Holland, Christian Schmollinger, Rich McKay, Shubham Kalia, Harshita Meenakshi, Shreya Biswas, Jyoti Narayan. Kat Jackson, Jonathan Saul and Jonathan Allen; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters,


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