‘Had about 90 seconds’: How officials managed to save lives before Baltimore bridge fell

NEW DELHI: In the dead of night, a dispatcher’s urgent message rang out over the radio: a large cargo ship had lost control and was heading towards the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Within 90 seconds, police officers sprang into action, halting traffic on the bridge in both directions, AP reported.
Despite their swift response, the vessel, burdened with heavy containers, collided with a support pillar, causing a catastrophic collapse.The impact left a significant section of the bridge, a crucial link in the region’s transportation network, crumpled in the Patapsco River.
“The whole bridge just fell down,” a frantic officer said. “Start, start whoever, everybody … the whole bridge just collapsed.”
The aftermath of the bridge collapse is predicted to cause chaos for commuters and disrupt operations at a key shipping port. At least eight people were thrown into the water, with only two being rescued. The remaining six, part of a construction crew working on the bridge, were reported missing and presumed dead.
The missing workers hailed from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, as confirmed by diplomats from these nations. Among them was Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandova from Honduras. Authorities have classified the incident as an accident, with the National Transportation Safety Board launching an investigation. Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore has been indefinitely suspended in the wake of the collision.
Navigating a ship in restricted waters with limited maneuvering space is acknowledged as a highly technical and challenging task, emphasized by Capt. Michael Burns Jr. of the Maritime Center for Responsible Energy. The loss of power and steering in such conditions leaves vessels vulnerable to external forces like wind and currents, amplifying the risks.
Video footage captured the ship approaching the 1.6-mile bridge at around 9 mph (15 kph), with some vehicles narrowly escaping the crash. The sudden impact caused a section of the bridge to crumble into the river, leaving sharp debris protruding from the water. While the workers were believed to be the only individuals in the water, authorities were continuing their search efforts.
“This was so completely unforeseen. We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers,” AP quoted Jeffrey Pritzker, an executive at the crew’s employer, Brawner Builders, as saying.
The collapse is poised to trigger logistical challenges along the East Coast, disrupting shipping operations at the Port of Baltimore. State and federal authorities have pledged support, with the expectation of federal funding for the bridge’s reconstruction. Synergy Marine Group, responsible for managing the ship, reported minor injuries among the crew members, with the vessel under charter by Maersk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *