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Baltimore Bridge collapse: 2 bodies recovered from water as search efforts continue

Baltimore Bridge collapse: 2 bodies recovered from water as search efforts continue

After the cargo ship collided with the bridge, workers continue to investigate and look for victims.

Maryland:

The bodies of two construction workers were found in the frigid waters of the Port of Baltimore on Wednesday, trapped in their red pickup truck after a huge cargo ship crashed into the bridge where they were filling potholes, causing a thunderous collapse.

Maryland police announced the grim discovery at a news conference, adding that they believe sonar shows additional vehicles trapped in the concrete and twisted steel rubble of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Six of the eight-man construction crew are believed to have been killed and four bodies have yet to be found.

Police warned that it was not safe for divers to enter the wreck and told a news conference that they would begin a recovery operation that would remove the superstructure and then send divers back to retrieve the remaining bodies recover.

“Based on sonar scans, we strongly believe that the vehicles are trapped in the superstructure and concrete that we saw tragically fall,” Colonel Roland Butler, the superintendent of the Maryland State Police, said at a news conference.

The Dali container ship, about 300 meters long and laden with cargo, was leaving the busy port at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday on its way to Asia when the power went out and the ship crashed directly into a support column.

Nearly the entire steel structure crossed by tens of thousands of motorists each day collapsed in seconds, tumbling over the ship’s bow and blocking one of the nation’s busiest commercial ports.

Shortly before the collision, the ship issued a mayday call, prompting police to stop traffic on the bridge – likely saving lives.

But there was no chance of evacuating the eight workers who were filling potholes in the road directly above the oncoming ship.

Butler named the two victims found Wednesday as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, a 35-year-old who had lived in Baltimore but was originally from Mexico, and his 26-year-old colleague Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, who lived in suburban Dundalk but was from Guatemala.

They were found in 25 feet of water, he said.

Two other people were pulled alive from the water shortly after the collapse early Tuesday. One was uninjured while the second was released from the hospital Wednesday, Butler said.

Four other workers are believed to be dead, lost in the swirling currents and crumpled tangle of destroyed girders and masts.

– ‘Hard-working’ men –

The ship, which was still caught in the wreckage on Wednesday, was “stable,” Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Gautier told reporters at the White House, adding that the mostly Indian crew remained aboard and was “very engaged” in the ship investigations are.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, said the ship’s data set, the black box, had been restored to help investigators understand what went wrong.

Gautier insisted that the ship posed no threat to the environment despite the billion and a half gallons of oil and a few dozen hazardous materials cargo containers on board. Two more containers – of the total 4,700 – went overboard, he said.

Officials said the missing workers were from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

“They are all hard-working, humble men,” said Jesus Campos, a colleague of the eight workers, all employed by contractor Brawner Builders.

According to the nonprofit Casa, which advocates for immigrant communities, one of those now presumed dead was father-of-three Miguel Luna.

Luna, from El Salvador, left for work at 6:30 p.m. Monday and never returned, Casa said.

His wife, Maria del Carmen Castellon, told Telemundo 44 she was “devastated” waiting for information.

“This situation hurts my heart,” Campos said.

– Busy harbor blocked –

Footage of the collision showed the ship crashing into one of the supports of the 47-year-old bridge.

The ship passed two overseas inspections in 2023, the Maritime Authority of Singapore, where the ship sails, said on Wednesday, adding that a fault monitoring gauge was repaired in June.

The Port of Baltimore is the ninth-busiest major port in the United States in terms of foreign cargo handled and value of foreign cargo. He is directly responsible for more than 15,000 jobs and supports nearly 140,000 others.

The impact on supply chains “will clearly be non-trivial,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, adding it was “too early” to know when the port might reopen.

“Reconstruction will not be quick, easy or cheap,” he warned.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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