FBI opens criminal probe into Baltimore bridge collapse – US media reports

By John Mercury April 15, 2024

The FBI has opened a criminal probe into the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, according to the Washington Post.

On 26 March, the Dali, a cargo ship, lost power and crashed into one of the supports of the bridge, causing it to collapse.

Video captured the moment the huge structure fell into the river, killing six men – all roadway workers who had been on the bridge at the time.

The criminal investigation will be at least partly focused on the Dali cargo ship and if its crew left the port knowing it had serious problems with its systems, the US outlet reports, citing two officials.

Pic: NTSB via AP
The remains of the bridge are still in place across the stranded cargo ship. Pic: NTSB via AP

Salvage crews have since been trying to clear the wreckage.

The remains of the bridge still lie across the cargo ship, blocking the shipping lane.

Last week, the head of the US National Transportation Safety Board told Congress that it had interviewed key personnel from the cargo ship as part of its investigation.

More on Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Following the collapse of the bridge into the Patapsco River, US President Joe Biden toured the area and saw first-hand efforts to clear away the debris.

He greeted police officers who helped block traffic onto the bridge in the moments before the ship struck, and spoke to the families of the victims.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows a view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge that was struck by a container ship in Baltimore, Md., on Tuesday, March 26, 2024.  The container ship lost power and rammed into the major bridge causing the span to buckle into the river below. (Maxaar Technologies via AP)
Pic: Maxar/Reuters

He also promised the state of Maryland that it wouldn’t be left alone.

Mr Biden said: “I’m here to say your nation has your back and I mean it. Your nation has your back.”

The White House previously said the intention was to open a limited-access channel for some barge container ships by the end of April.

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By the end of May they hope normal capacity will have been restored to Baltimore’s port.

The bodies of three of the six workers who died have been recovered and the other three are presumed dead.

In recent days, authorities have continued to remove containers from onboard the Dali – with 38 removed as of 11 April.

US President Joe Biden, aboard Marine One, takes an aerial tour of the collapsed bridge site. Pic: AP
US President Joe Biden, aboard Marine One, takes an aerial tour of the collapsed bridge site. Pic: AP

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This is described as a “critical step” in the response as the submerged road is broken up and removed as well.

Marine traffic remains severely limited with only 69 ships have passed through since 26 March.

Divers working within the river in the salvage mission face a number of problems as they face huge, twisted steel beams, possible human remains and “hundreds of tons of shattered concrete”.

Workers dismantling parts of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge using an exothermic cutting torch. Pic: AP
Workers dismantling parts of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge using an exothermic cutting torch. Pic: AP

Removal of Debris, Shipping Containers Continues at Site of Baltimore Bridge Collapse
The removal of debris continues at the site

Rick Benoit, emergency management specialist at the US Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, said: “The response to the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse is an unusual mission with an uber-extreme work environment of dark, cold water.

“Beneath those waters, divers are moving as if playing an underwater game of Twister and Jenga with hundreds of tons of shattered concrete and twisted steel in complete darkness.

“If divers fail, the price of failure could be severe injury or death; safety must be the top priority at all times.”


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