Rescuers lift first piece of collapsed Baltimore bridge Reuters

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By David Lauder and Joel Shechtman

(Reuters) – Maryland and U.S. officials said rescue teams were ready to lift the first piece of Baltimore’s collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge from the water on Saturday to allow boats and tugboats to reach the disaster site. The first step in a complex endeavor. Reopen the city’s blocked port.

A steel truss bridge collapsed Tuesday morning, killing six road workers, when a giant container ship lost power and collided with a support pylon, sending most of the span crashing into the Patapsco River, destroying the Port of Baltimore. Shipping channel blocked.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore said at a news conference that a section of the bridge’s steel superstructure north of the accident site would be cut into a piece that could be lifted by crane onto a barge and transported to the nearby Tradepoint Atlantic site at Sparrows Point. can be brought.

“This will ultimately allow us to open a temporary restricted channel that will help us get more vessels into the waters around the collapse site,” Moore said.

He declined to give any timeline for this part of the evacuation work. “It won’t take many hours,” he said. “It won’t take a few days, but once we complete this phase of the work, we can move more tugs, more barges and more boats to the area to accelerate our recovery.”

Workers will not yet attempt to remove the crumpled section of the bridge superstructure, which rests on the bow of the 984-foot Singapore-flagged container ship Dali, which toppled the bridge. Moore said it was unclear when the ship might be towed, but said its hull was “intact” despite the damage.

“This is a remarkably complex operation,” Moore said of the effort to remove the bridge debris and open the Port of Baltimore to shipping traffic.

The bodies of two workers who were repairing the bridge deck at the time of the disaster have been recovered, but Moore said efforts to recover four other people believed dead are suspended because it is too dangerous for divers to work amid so much debris. Is.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath told reporters that teams from the Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy Salvage Branch and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would have to remove debris from the deep-draft shipping channel of the Patapsco River before the cast could be moved. ,

Saturday’s operation involved cutting a piece just north of that channel and lifting it onto a barge with a 160-ton marine crane. A large 1,000 tonne crane is also at the bridge site.

The piece will be brought to TradePoint Atlantic, the site of a former Bethlehem Steel mill that is being developed as a distribution center for companies including (NASDAQ:). home depot (NYSE:) and Volkswagen (ETR:). The facility’s port, which is located on the Chesapeake Bay side of the collapsed bridge, is fully operational.

Five days after the tragedy, the jobs of about 15,000 people whose work revolves around daily port operations remain on hold. While logistics experts say other East Coast ports should be able to handle container traffic, Baltimore is the largest U.S. port for “roll-on, roll-off” vehicle imports and exports of agricultural and construction equipment.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland said the Small Business Administration has approved the state’s request for a disaster declaration, which would provide emergency low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small companies affected by the disaster through the end of 2024. Allows to apply.

The federal government on Thursday awarded Maryland an initial $60 million in emergency funding to begin removing debris and rebuilding the Key Bridge, an exceptionally rapid distribution. President Joe Biden has pledged that the federal government will cover all costs of debris removal and rebuilding the bridge.

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