Baltimore bridge collpase: Temporary channel for ships opened to aid clean-up operation after disaster

Baltimore bridge collpase: Temporary channel for ships opened to aid clean-up operation after disaster

A temporary alternate channel has been opened into the port of Baltimore to help with the clean-up operation following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

The structure collapsed into the water last Tuesday after being struck by the Dali, a 300m (985ft) cargo ship, which had lost power.

Maryland governor Wes Moore said the temporary channel, to the northeast side of the collapsed bridge, would “help get more vessels in the water around the site of the collapse”.

He added that recovery teams were working on opening a second temporary channel.

City officials said the temporary channel would open only to vessels helping with the clean-up effort, but work was under way on a phased approach to resume commercial shipping in and out of the port of Baltimore.

It comes as the White House announced on Tuesday that Joe Biden would travel to the city on Friday.

The US president is expected to meet with state and local leaders, including Mr Moore, as well as tour the area of the damage, according to White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.

Pic: NTSB via AP

Latest aerial footage of Baltimore bridge collapse shows the start of the wreckage removal
Latest aerial footage of Baltimore bridge collapse shows the start of the wreckage removal

Pic: Reuters
Pic: Reuters

Baltimore is the ninth-largest port in the US, based on overall trade volumes.

Concerns have been raised about the impact on the city’s economy from the continued blocking of marine traffic in and out of the city’s main ports following the collapse of the bridge into the Patapsco River.

Rail company CSX said it would start a new freight rail service between Baltimore and New York for its clients on Tuesday to circumvent the closure of the Port of Baltimore, CNBC reported on Monday.

Six road workers, who were working on the bridge at the time of the collapse, are thought to have died. Two bodies have since been recovered.

The search for the remaining four – who are presumed dead – has been put on hold due to the challenges posed by the bridge debris.


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On Saturday, US Coast Guard rear admiral Shannon Gilreath said experts were trying to work out how to “break that bridge up into the right-sized pieces that we can lift”.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s secretary of transportation Paul J Wiedefeld said his department was already planning for the rebuilding of the bridge and “considering innovative design, engineering and building methods so that we can quickly deliver this project”.

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The White House has approved $60m (£48m) in immediate aid, and Mr Biden has said the federal government will pay the full cost of rebuilding the road bridge, which was completed in 1977 and carried 30,000 vehicles a day.

The cargo ship, which was managed by Synergy Marine Group, was heading from Baltimore to Sri Lanka at the time of the crash.

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Baltimore bridge collapse: Clear up continues

It is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Synergy said in a statement: “We deeply regret this incident and the problems it has caused for the people of Baltimore and the region’s economy that relies on this vitally important port.”

The firm has said it will continue to co-operate with the investigation.

On Monday, Grace Ocean Private Ltd and Synergy filed a court petition Monday seeking to limit their legal liability for the deadly disaster.

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Their joint filing – under a pre-Civil War provision of an 1851 maritime law that allows them to seek to limit their liability to the value of the vessel’s remains after a casualty – seeks to cap the companies’ liability at roughly $43.6m (£35m).

Credit rating agency Morningstar DBRS predicts the total insured losses for the Baltimore disaster could be $2bn (£1.6bn) to $4bn (£3.2bn).