• Saturday, April 20, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Baltimore bridge collapse: Indian crew to remain on board Dali till probe ends

The crew members are busy with their normal duties on the ship as well as assisting the investigators on board, agencies that own and manage the ship said.

The collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge lies on top of the container ship Dali in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 29, 2024, as clean-up work begins. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE crew consisting of 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan aboard the disabled container vessel involved in a collision with a crucial bridge in Baltimore, the US, is reportedly “bust with their normal duties”, the ship’s owning company in Singapore has informed. It also added that they would remain on board until the investigation into the incident that took place on March 26 concludes.

The Sri Lanka-bound cargo vessel, MV Dali, collided with one of the piers of the the 2.6-kilometres-long Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River in Baltimore in the early hours, leading to the structure’s collapse.

Minutes before colliding with the bridge, there was a total blackout on the ship measuring 984 foot in length, indicating that it lost both engine and electrical power, according to US media reports.

Read: ‘Racist’ cartoon, posts target Indian crew of vessel that rammed Baltimore bridge

“It is confirmed there are 21 crew members on board. The crew members are busy with their normal duties on the ship as well as assisting the National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard investigators on board,” a spokesperson of Grace Ocean Pte and Synergy Marine told new agency Press Trust of India.

Dali is owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and managed by the Synergy Marine Group, Singapore. 

Read: Baltimore collision: Indian embassy in US condoles; Biden lauds ship crew’s quick action

On the duration the crew would have to stay on board the ship, the spokesperson said, “At this time, we do not know how long the investigation process will take and until that process is complete, the crew will remain on board.”

Earlier, the non-profit organisation Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center had said that the Indian crew on board the container vessel was “healthy”.

The Indian ministry of external affairs had earlier said that there were 20 Indians on board Dali and the Indian embassy in Washington DC was in close touch with them and local authorities.

Last week, US authorities began interviewing personnel on board the ship.

The Synergy Group had said in a statement that the NTSB boarded the vessel on Wednesday and collected documents, voyage data recorder extracts, and other evidence as part of their investigation. Grace Ocean and Synergy confirmed the safety of all crew members and two pilots aboard the vessel. They, however, reported one minor injury and said the injured crew member had been treated and discharged from a hospital.

Six people, who were part of a construction crew repairing potholes on the bridge when the collision occurred, are presumed dead. Divers recovered the bodies of two of the construction workers from a red pickup truck found submerged in the river and a search was on for the remaining four victims.

US president Joe Biden said that the crew on board Dali had alerted transportation personnel about losing control of the vessel, enabling authorities to close the Baltimore bridge to traffic before the devastating collision, “undoubtedly” saving lives.

Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland, also praised the Indian crew members for raising a timely alert and saving more lives, calling them “heroes”.

Meanwhile, a temporary alternative route for ships is to be opened in the US city of Baltimore following the collapse of, officials announced. Efforts are underway to remove debris from the water.

A 200-tonne piece of the bridge was removed on Saturday. Those involved in the clean-up have been cutting debris from the bridge into smaller pieces that can be removed and taken to a disposal site.

The collapse of the bridge has effectively shut down operations at Baltimore’s port, affecting about 8,000 jobs and about $2 million (£1.59 million) in daily wages for those workers, US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said last week. Between $100 million (£79.5 million) and $200 million (£159.1 million) worth of trade went through the port daily before the bridge’s collapse, and the port was America’s largest for handling vehicle imports, he added. 

(With PTI inputs)

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