• Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Collapsed Baltimore bridge blasted to clear wreckage

Smoke rises, following a detonation of explosives to free the container ship Dali, after it was trapped following its collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. May 13, 2024. (REUTERS/Leah Millis)

By: Shajil Kumar

US crews in Baltimore set off controlled explosions on Monday to allow them to remove a portion of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge from the bow of the massive container ship that toppled the span in March.

The detonations were meant to break the bridge’s truss into small sections, enabling salvage crews to use cranes and barges to haul away the twisted metal wreckage, the US Army Corps of Engineers said. The work, originally planned for Sunday, was delayed because of weather conditions.

The US Army Corps of Engineers and state officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on how successful the detonations were.

In the early morning of March 26, Dali, a 984-foot long ship, lost power and crashed into a bridge support, sending the span into the Patapsco River, with a major portion draped over the Dali’s bow. Six construction workers were killed.

The incident initially halted traffic at the Port of Baltimore, which ranks first in the US in several cargo categories, including autos and light trucks, farm and construction machinery, imported sugar and imported gypsum, according to the state of Maryland.

Since the crash, four temporary channels have been opened, allowing for some shipping to resume. The Corps said it aims to restore port access to full capacity by the end of May.

Maryland estimates it will cost $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion to rebuild the bridge and anticipates completion by fall 2028.

In April, the FBI opened a criminal probe into the collapse. Safety investigators recovered the ship’s “black box” recorder, which provides data on its position, speed, heading, radar, and bridge audio and radio communications, as well as alarms.

Phones seized

They have also seized the cellphones of the crew on board the Dali, a non-profit organisation in touch with the personnel said.

The crew on board Dali included 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan. They have been on the ship since the accident and cooperating with the investigation.

Executive Director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre Joshua Messick told PTI that he is working with various organisations to make sure the crew’s needs and rights are upheld.

“They are well cared for with the sole exception that their cellphones were seized as part of the FBI’s investigation and have not been returned,” he said.

Messick said he is in “contact with the crew to purchase some SIM cards for them and to plan trips ashore when they are able to have shore leave”.

The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre is a non-profit organisation serving seafarers that call on the Port of Baltimore from all over the world. (Agencies)

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