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UPDATE: Construction workers presumed dead after Baltimore bridge collapse

The Associated Press
UPDATE: Construction workers presumed dead after Baltimore bridge collapse
@HARFORCOFIREEMS — A container ship rammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing it to snap and plunge into the river below. Several vehicles fell into the chilly waters, and rescuers were searching for survivors.

BALTIMORE — A hospital official says one person involved in the Baltimore bridge collapse is still being treated while another has been discharged.

Dr. David Efron is the chief of trauma at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He says one patient who arrived at 2:30 a.m. remained hospitalized Tuesday afternoon and another had been released.

The hospital did not release the name or condition of either patient, nor the nature of their injuries.

A cargo ship lost power and rammed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, destroying the span in a matter of seconds and plunging it into the river. Six construction workers are missing and presumed dead by their employer.




A fellow construction company employee says he was told his missing co-workers were on a break and some were sitting in their trucks when a Baltimore bridge collapsed early Tuesday after being struck by a container ship.

Brawner Builders employee Jesus Campos says he learned about the disaster from a co-worker and immediately worried about colleagues he knew were working on the bridge.

“When he told me that, they came to mind and I was praying to God that nothing had happened to them,” Campos said, speaking in Spanish.

“It is so hard for me to describe. I know that a month ago I was there, and I know what it feels like when the trailers pass. Imagine knowing that it is falling. It is so hard, one would not know what to do,” Campos said.

Jeffrey Pritzker, the company’s executive vice president, said six workers are presumed dead. Campos says the workers ranged in age from about 30 to 45 and all had families.



A senior executive at the company that employed the construction workers who’ve been unaccounted for since a Baltimore bridge collapsed says six of the company’s workers are presumed dead and one worker was hospitalized.

Brawner Builders Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pritzker says the crew was working in the middle of the bridge’s span when a cargo ship hit it early Tuesday and crumbled the bridge. He says the bodies of the workers have not yet been recovered but they are presumed to have died given the water’s depth and the amount of time that has passed since the collapse.

“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.”



Radio traffic obtained from the archive indicates officers were just about to alert a construction crew when a major bridge in Baltimore collapsed after being hit by a container ship that had lost power.

The Maryland Transportation Authority first responder radio traffic includes a dispatcher putting out a call saying a ship had lost its steering ability and asking officers to stop all traffic. It took officers less than two minutes to stop traffic on the bridge.

One officer who had stopped traffic radioed that he was going to drive onto the bridge to notify the construction crew once a second officer arrived. But seconds later, a frantic officer radioed that the bridge had collapsed.

The six people still unaccounted for were part of the construction crew, which was filling potholes on the bridge.



The head of a supply chain management company says Americans should expect shortages of goods as the Baltimore bridge collapse affects ocean container shipping and East Coast trucking logistics.

“It’s not just the port of Baltimore that’s going to be impacted,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of Flexport.

Petersen says attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea connecting Asia with Europe and the United States have forced traffic away from the Suez Canal and around the tip of Africa. At the same time, there’s been increased congestion in the Panama Canal. Petersen says U.S. importers are increasingly shifting to West Coast ports which in turn may have their own back-ups.

“You get this vicious feedback loop,” he said.

Petersen was working with his team Tuesday to reroute about 800 shipping containers currently making their way to Baltimore’s port.

“It’s a scramble because each of those containers has now a new journey to clear customs, you’ve got to get a different truck to pick it up at a different port, it creates a whole lot of downstream work,” he said.

A cargo ship lost power and rammed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, destroying the span in a matter of seconds and plunging it into the river.



Inspectors in June found a problem with the machinery of the ship that caused a major bridge to collapse in Baltimore early Tuesday.

But according to the shipping information system Equasis, a more recent examination of the ship, called the Dali, did not identify any deficiencies.

The Dali, owned by Grace Ocean PTE, has been inspected at least 27 times at ports around the world since it was built in 2015. An inspection at a port in Chile in June identified a problem with the ship’s “propulsion and auxiliary machinery,” according to Equasis, but the website’s online records didn’t elaborate.

The most recent inspection listed for the Dali was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard in New York on Sept. 13, 2023. According to the Equasis data, the “standard examination” didn’t identify any deficiencies.

A July 2016 inspection in Belgium determined hull damage had impaired the Dali’s seaworthiness after it struck berth used for mooring vessels at the Port of Antwerp.



President Joe Biden said Tuesday he plans to travel to Baltimore “as quickly as I can” and that he plans for the federal government to pick up the entire cost of reconstruction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed earlier in the day after a container ship lost power and struck it.

“We’re going to rebuild that port together,” Biden said in brief remarks from the White House, shortly before departing for North Carolina.

The president said he expects lawmakers on Capitol Hill to support his bid to ensure the U.S. government pays for rebuilding the bridge.

“This is going to take some time,” Biden said. “The people of Baltimore can count on us, though, to stick with them at every step of the way until the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”

Biden repeated earlier statements from officials that all current indications were that the collapse was an accident.

“At this time, we have no other indication, no other reason to believe there’s any intentional act here,” he said.

Biden’s expected challenger in the presidential race this year, Republican Donald Trump, as of midday Tuesday has not commented publicly on the bridge collapse.



The bridge did not appear to have pier protection to withstand the cargo ship crash, according to a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Professor Roberto Leon, of Virginia Tech, said he reviewed the video of the crash Tuesday.

“If a bridge pier without adequate protection is hit by a ship of this size, there is very little that the bridge could do,” Leon said.

Maryland recently retrofitted another bridge with pier protection devices for about $100 million, he said.

It’s expensive, but the price would pale in comparison with expected losses from the damaged bridge, including additional miles driven, fuel and business costs, he said.



The most recent federal data shows the bridge was rated as being in fair condition overall before the crash.

The Federal Highway Administration rates bridges on the condition of their individual components. In a national bridge inventory released in June, inspectors rated the Key Bridge’s deck, substructure and superstructure — or the component that absorbs the live traffic load — as satisfactory.

The bridge carried an estimated 30,800 vehicles a day on average in 2019. According to the Maryland Transportation Authority, that translates to about 11.3 million vehicles a year across the bridge, which was built in the 1970s and was 1.6 miles long.



Synergy Marine, which operated the ship that hit the bridge, and the ship’s owner, Grace Ocean Private Ltd, have been sued at least four times in U.S. federal court on allegations of negligence and other claims tied to worker injuries on other ships owned and operated by the Singapore-based companies.

One lawsuit, in 2019, involved a man from Oregon who broke several bones when a rope ladder he was using to board a refrigerated cargo vessel snapped, sending him 25 feet to the ground.

Also that year, a Texas worker was injured when a hatch on the same ship, the M/V Star Leader, was prematurely opened without warning by a ship’s crew member.

In 2021, a longshoreman in Savannah, Georgia, sued Synergy when he tumbled 5 feet on a gangway whose handrail collapsed, injuring his back and shoulder.

All three lawsuits were settled out of court.

A fourth case, involving a worker at the port of Houston who was pinned underneath a stack of metal pipes he was trying to remove, was dismissed.


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