Updates on the Bridge Collapse

What is known about the bridge collapse in Baltimore after being hit by a cargo ship named “Dali”? What are the implications of the incident? Have any details emerged about the cause? Is there hope for the six individuals reported missing?

Updates on the Bridge Collapse

What is known about the bridge collapse in Baltimore after being hit by a cargo ship named “Dali”? What are the implications of the incident? Have any details emerged about the cause? Is there hope for the six individuals reported missing?

Summary of Events

During the night of March 26th, the “Francis Scott Key” bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, was struck by the Singapore-flagged container ship “Dali.” Significant sections of the more than 2.5-kilometer-long bridge collapsed, with heavy steel beams bending from the impact. Several vehicles and individuals fell into the approximately 15-meter-deep waters of the Patapsco River where the bridge meets its end.

Missing Persons and Rescue Efforts

Authorities have reported six individuals still missing, with the possibility that more people may have fallen into the water. The missing individuals, including individuals from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador, were part of an eight-person work crew repairing potholes on the road surface when the bridge collapsed. While two individuals were rescued on Tuesday, the search for the missing continued on Wednesday, with authorities sadly assuming that none of them survived. Search efforts have been challenging due to underwater currents, debris, and poor visibility.

Probable Cause and Investigations

The exact cause of the collision and collapse remains unknown. Authorities have not found any evidence of intentional actions or terrorism. Maryland Governor Wes Moore mentioned a potential issue with the cargo ship’s power supply as it was moving towards the bridge at around eight knots, or approximately 15 kilometers per hour. The vessel reported an engine failure shortly before impact, dropping anchor to slow down. It remains unclear whether efforts were made to warn the work crew on the bridge.

Investigations are underway, with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examining the ship’s data recorder for insights. Crew members, survivors, and first responders are being interviewed. The NTSB will also assess if contaminated fuel contributed to the vessel’s power loss. Efforts to retrieve bridge parts from the water are ongoing to determine the collapse’s cause.

At this stage, there is no indication that the bridge’s condition, built in the 1970s, contributed to the collapse. Governor Moore affirmed that the bridge met structural standards with no known issues during a press briefing.

Impact of the Collapse

The “Francis Scott Key” bridge was a significant landmark in Baltimore, serving as a daily commuting route for about 31,000 people between Washington and New York. With its loss, traffic disruptions are expected in Baltimore as drivers divert to other congested harbor crossings, causing delays and regional traffic rerouting for months or even years to come.

Effect on the Baltimore Port and Trade Relations

The bridge collapse led to the closure of the Baltimore port, described by President Biden as one of the USA’s major maritime hubs, especially for importing and exporting cars and light trucks. Approximately 850,000 vehicles are shipped through it annually, supporting around 15,000 jobs. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned of potential disruptions in supply chains, impacting not just the Baltimore region but the entire US economy. Nevertheless, economists and logistics experts doubt that the port closure will trigger a significant supply chain crisis or a sharp increase in commodity prices due to sufficient capacity at competing ports along the East Coast.

While the closure of the port specializing in vehicle handling could affect trade relations with Germany, Commerzbank trade expert Vincent Stamer stated disruptions could impact trade in the Washington metropolitan region, potentially rerouting ships to New York and Florida, causing delays. Mercedes-Benz, one of the companies impacted, acknowledged Baltimore’s significance in vehicle imports alongside other US ports and assured they are monitoring the situation closely. However, the incident is not anticipated to affect vehicle exports.

Environmental Impact and Recovery Timeline

The potential environmental effects of the accident remain unknown. According to the Coast Guard, measures were taken to minimize any environmental damage, with reports of an oil sheen visible on the water.

As per US engineer and statistician Matthew Roblez interviewed by CNN, the salvage of bridge components alone could take several months, while the reconstruction process could span approximately two years, costing around $500 million (approximately 460 million euros). President Biden has pledged federal funds for the reconstruction efforts.

Anticipated Restoration of Transport Connectivity

The timeline for restoring the affected route remains uncertain, with extensive recovery and rebuilding efforts ahead. The community and stakeholders will closely monitor progress towards reinstating essential transportation infrastructure and resuming normalcy in the region.