05-18-2024  6:34 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
Baltimore Bridge Collapse (Photo: NNPA)
Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Published: 16 April 2024

A federal criminal investigation has been initiated into the ship crash that led to the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. The FBI and the US Coast Guard are spearheading the inquiry to determine if the crew neglected to report a prior issue with the vessel, which could have contributed to the tragic incident.

The bridge collapsed around 1:30 a.m. on March 26 when a massive cargo ship, the Dali, lost power and collided with the bridge. The collision resulted in the deaths of six construction workers who were repairing potholes on the bridge and fell into the Patapsco River below.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it has been actively investigating the cause of the disaster. Recent updates from the NTSB indicate that the probe’s focus is on the ship’s engine room equipment.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s top officials and the Biden-Harris administration have promised to address the economic impact of the Key Bridge collapse. Senate President Bill Ferguson of Baltimore City announced a collaboration with Del. Luke Clippinger and other lawmakers to expedite emergency legislation. The legislation aims to provide financial relief to the port employees affected by the disaster.

According to Ferguson, more than 15,000 individuals in the Baltimore region rely on port operations for their livelihoods. “The human cost of lives lost is overwhelming and tragic,” Ferguson stated. “The economic and stability loss to the thousands impacted cannot be understated.”

Gov. Wes Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott have been leading efforts to mitigate the aftermath of the collapse, which has resulted in the indefinite suspension of vessel traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore. The suspension has exacerbated the economic consequences of the disaster, creating logistical challenges for businesses that rely on the port.

The Port of Baltimore plays a crucial role in the East Coast’s shipping infrastructure, annually handling millions of tons of cargo worth billions of dollars. Last year alone, the port facilitated the shipment of over 840,000 new cars and trucks, making it the leading American seaport for automotive exports.

Officials estimate the Port of Baltimore annually contributes approximately $400 million in tax revenue to Maryland.

As investigations continue and efforts to restore operations at the Port of Baltimore intensify, state and federal officials reiterate their commitment to supporting and relieving those affected by this devastating incident.

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