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Searching for the six victims of the collapsed Baltimore bridge

Photo: Steve Helber Associated Press The six people presumed dead were part of a crew of public works workers repairing potholes on the Francis Scott Key Freeway Bridge when it collapsed.

Aziz el Massassi – Agence France-Presse in Baltimore

8:15 a.m.

  • United States

Authorities in Baltimore on the east coast of the United States are preparing Wednesday for an operation to recover the bodies of six people presumed dead after the spectacular collapse of a bridge hit by a container ship.

These six people were part of a crew of public works workers repairing potholes on the Francis Scott Key Freeway Bridge when it collapsed Tuesday in Patapsco around 1:30 a.m. EDT.

Tuesday evening, emergency services suspended the search for survivors, after a 16-hour search in freezing waters which resulted in the finding of two survivors, one of whom was seriously injured.

The authorities had deployed numerous means by air, on land, at sea and even underwater. But with no hope of finding survivors and faced with difficult conditions, Coast Guard Vice Admiral Shannon Gilreath announced to journalists the suspension of “the active search phase”.

“We are simply moving to a new phase” of relief, he added, with another official specifying that divers would be on site from the early hours of Wednesday.

“My heart goes out to the families tonight and in the days ahead,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement.

According to the charity Casa, which specializes in helping immigrants, one of the missing, Miguel Luna, is the father of three children. Originally from El Salvador, he left for work at the end of the day on Monday and did not return.

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His wife, Maria del Carmen Castellon, told the Spanish television station Telemundo 44 that she was “devastated” by the wait for news.

Two of the others missing were from Guatemala, according to authorities there. Nationals from Mexico and Honduras are also among them, according to the local news site The Baltimore Banner.

“My heart is hurting,” said Jesus Campos, who worked with the missing. “They are human beings and they are my colleagues.”

The toll of this “terrible accident”, in the words of President Joe Biden, would have been worse if the ship, which suffered a “momentary loss of propulsion”, had not managed to launch an appeal distress.

This alert allowed the authorities to cut off part of the road traffic. The preliminary investigation shows that it was an accident, according to the authorities.

Impressive video surveillance images show the container ship MV Dali veering off course and hitting a pile of this bridge inaugurated in 1977, causing several arches to collapse in the port.

In these videos, we see lights from maintenance vehicles on the bridge, before it warps and falls apart.

The crew, unharmed, quickly tried to slow down their course by dropping anchor, without succeeding in avoiding the collision.

“The entire bridge just collapsed! Start, start, anyone… everyone…”, an operator called over the emergency radio frequency in the seconds following the fall.


Jennifer Woolf almost lost her 20-year-old son: he crossed the bridge three minutes before the tragedy. “He came home in panic, crying, shaking,” the 41-year-old American woman, met at a gas station that became a crossroads for emergency services and shocked residents, told AFP.

Joe Biden pledged that the bridge, which bears the name of the poet who wrote the words of the American national anthem, would be rebuilt, admitting that it would take time. Wanting to get ahead of the insurers, the president said he wanted “the federal state to pay the entire cost of reconstruction.”

Because the issue is economic: this four-lane bridge, 2.6 km long, is located on a crucial north-south axis for the economy of the East Coast of the United States.

And with access to the port blocked by debris from the bridge, maritime transport there is “suspended until further notice,” authorities said. The Port of Baltimore is the ninth largest in the country in terms of activity and generates more than 15,000 jobs.

Transportation Minister Pete Buttigieg warned of a “major and prolonged impact on supply chains”.

The MV Dali, is a recent container ship, 300 meters long and 48 meters wide, flying the Singaporean flag, and which was sailing towards Sri Lanka.

It was operated by shipping company Synergy Group and chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Singapore Port Authority said on Wednesday that it passed two inspections in 2023 and that a faulty fuel pressure monitoring gauge was repaired in June.

The Chilean port authorities reported a defect in the ship's machinery in 2023, an anomaly quickly repaired by the shipowner according to the Chilean navy.

Jennifer Homendy, head of the American Transportation Safety Agency (NTSB), explained to the press from Baltimore that the recovery of the container ship's data recorders would be crucial to the investigation, carried out with the coast guard.

She said she had spoken with her counterpart from Singapore, who should come to Baltimore in the coming days, as well as officials from the city-state's port authorities.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116