Two bodies found, details of the drama revealed

“Divers located a red pick-up truck at a depth of approximately 7.6 meters,” police in Maryland, the state where Baltimore is located, announced during a press briefing. “The two victims of the accident were occupants of the vehicle.” The bodies recovered were identified as those of two men, ages 35 and 26, from Mexico and Guatemala, who were part of a crew of workers on the Francis Scott Key Bridge roadway at the time of the accident.

Remove the metal structure from the water

Officials added that the bodies of four of his colleagues, all presumed dead, are yet to be found. But, especially because of the amount of concrete and debris, “divers can no longer make their way safely” toward what we believe to be trapped vehicles, said Roland Butler of the Maryland police. So rescuers will try to remove the structure from the water to facilitate access for divers, he said.

Officials warned on Tuesday evening that they did not believe they would “find these individuals still alive”, although two members of their team were rescued shortly after the crash. According to the American press, the victims, from Latin America, were repairing holes in the bridge when it collapsed into the Patapsco River.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday provided a detailed timeline of the disaster based on a preliminary analysis of the container ship’s data recorders.

what happened ?

The 300-meter-long and 48-meter-wide Dali, flying the Singaporean flag, left the dock at the port of Baltimore on Tuesday at 12:39 a.m. (4:39 a.m. GMT), bound for Asia, Marcel Muis said. The NTSB, during a press conference. At 1:24 a.m. local time, alarms on the ship began to sound, indicating propulsion problems. The pilot quickly radioed port authorities that the vessel was heading for the bridge, and requested the intervention of tugboats.

A call for help was also made by two teams from the local transport authority who were on the bridge due to work. Later closed all traffic lanes, thus possibly saving lives. Then, at 1:29 a.m., the ship’s recorder recorded “sounds consistent with a collision.”

The bridge, used by thousands of vehicles every day, then collapsed like a house of cards, with entire sections of the structure ending up on boats. Dramatic video surveillance images show the container ship colliding with the piles of the bridge that was inaugurated in 1977 and then collapsing.

For American Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg, “this type of bridge (…) was not designed to withstand the direct impact against the necessary support piers”. The crew tried in vain to slow the ship by dropping anchor. A preliminary investigation suggests it was an accident, according to officials.

There is no threat to the environment

President Joe Biden has promised that “the federal government will pay the full cost of rebuilding,” which bears the name of the American national anthem’s lyricist, acknowledging that it will take time.

Because the issue is also economic: this four-lane bridge, 2.6 km long, located on a north-south axis is crucial to the economy of the east coast of the United States. According to officials, for the time being, sea transport is “suspended till further notice”. The Port of Baltimore is the nation’s ninth largest port in terms of activity and generates more than 15,000 jobs.

With marine traffic at a standstill, container ships wait off the coast of Baltimore.

With marine traffic at a standstill, container ships wait off the coast of Baltimore.

Jim Watson/AFP

The Dali is “stable” and despite the presence on board of 5.6 billion liters of diesel and a few containers of dangerous materials, it does not represent a risk to the environment and the public, Peter Gautier, who is responsible for the coast guard, assured on Wednesday. Out of a total of 4,700, two containers fell into the water.

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