Biden Approves $60 Million in Aid Following Baltimore Bridge Collapse as Governor Warns of ‘Very Long Road Ahead’

Maryland Governor Wes Moore cautioned on Thursday about the arduous journey ahead in recovering from the loss of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, following the Biden administration’s approval of $60 million in immediate federal aid post the tragic collapse.

Massive barges, laden with cranes, were mobilized towards the site to initiate the daunting task of clearing the twisted metal and concrete, marking the initial phase towards reopening a crucial shipping route obstructed by the bridge wreckage.

Moore assured that top experts worldwide were diligently devising plans to eliminate the debris, relocate the cargo ship that collided with the bridge from the channel, retrieve the bodies of the four remaining workers presumed deceased, and probe the underlying causes of the disaster.

“Government is collaborating closely with the industry to investigate the area, encompassing the wreck, and facilitate the ship’s removal,” stated Moore, a Democrat, emphasizing the urgency of swift assistance to pave the way for a prompt recovery.

President Joe Biden reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to covering the entire cost of bridge reconstruction.

“This work is not going to take hours. This work is not going to take days. This work is not going to take weeks,” Moore emphasized. “We have a very long road ahead of us.”

Biden Approves $60 Million in Aid Following Baltimore Bridge Collapse
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg meets with officials to strategize reopening the port and rebuilding the bridge amid widespread impacts.

U.S. Coast Guard officials reported Wednesday night that barges were en route to the location where the bridge spanned the Patapsco River, although the exact arrival time remained uncertain.

The scene of the collapse, resulting from the collision of the powerless cargo ship with a pillar supporting the bridge early Tuesday, bears extensive devastation. Divers recovered the bodies of two individuals in a pickup truck near the bridge’s midpoint on Wednesday, yet authorities stressed the necessity of clearing the wreckage before reaching the bodies of the four other missing workers.

State police indicated that the vehicles seemed to be enveloped in a “superstructure” comprised of concrete and assorted debris.

“We have exhausted all search efforts in the areas around this wreckage, and based on sonar scans, we firmly believe that the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete,” remarked Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., superintendent of Maryland State Police, on Wednesday.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials boarded the vessel, named the Dali, to extract data from its electronic systems and documents and to conduct interviews with the captain and other crew members.

Investigators disclosed a preliminary sequence of events leading up to the collision, which both federal and state authorities have characterized as an accident.

A portion of the steel framework of the Francis Scott Key Bridge rests atop the container ship Dali following the bridge’s collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024.

The collapse occurred early on March 26 after the Singapore-flagged Dali container ship collided with the bridge, causing multiple vehicles and individuals to plummet into the icy harbor below.

Although the cause of the disaster remained unconfirmed at the time, Baltimore’s Police Commissioner Richard Worley stated there was “no indication” of terrorism.

“The best minds in the world are coming together to gather the necessary information to proceed swiftly and safely in our response to this collapse,” remarked Moore on Thursday.

Out of the 21 crew members aboard the ship, 20 are of Indian nationality, as confirmed by Randhir Jaiswal, the spokesperson for India’s foreign ministry. Jaiswal reported that one crew member sustained minor injuries requiring stitches, but assured reporters that “all are in good shape and good health.”

The victims, who were part of a construction crew tasked with repairing potholes on the bridge, hailed from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, according to Butler. Following the ship’s collision with the bridge column, at least eight individuals initially entered the water, with two being rescued on Tuesday, officials disclosed.

The collision resulted in the rapid collapse of the bridge, sending it tumbling into the water within moments. Authorities managed to halt vehicle traffic just in time, but were unable to warn the construction crew.

The Dali, under the management of Synergy Marine Group, was en route from Baltimore to Sri Lanka. It is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd., with Danish shipping conglomerate Maersk confirming its chartering.

Synergy expressed condolences to the families of the victims in an early Thursday statement.

“We deeply regret this incident and the challenges it has imposed on the people of Baltimore and the regional economy, which heavily relies on this crucial port,” Synergy stated, affirming its commitment to collaborating with investigators.

Scott Cowan, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333, stated that the union is working diligently to assist its approximately 2,400 members whose livelihoods are jeopardized until shipping operations can resume at the Port of Baltimore.

“If there’s no ships, there’s no work,” he stressed. “We’re doing everything we can.”

The massive vessel carried nearly 4,700 metal shipping containers, with 56 containing hazardous materials. Thirteen of these were destroyed, officials confirmed. However, upon evaluation by industrial hygienists, the contents were identified as perfumes and soaps, as stated by the Key Bridge Joint Information Center.

“There was no immediate threat to the environment,” the center reassured.

Booms were deployed to contain any oil leakage into the water, while state environmental officials began water sampling on Thursday.

Biden Approves $60 Million in Aid Following Baltimore Bridge Collapse
International cooperation was initiated to address port disruptions and mitigate supply chain challenges following the devastating bridge collapse.

Commercial divers tasked with operating beneath the bridge debris and container ship will encounter challenging conditions, including poor visibility and shifting currents, cautioned one expert.

“Debris can pose risks, particularly when visibility is limited,” remarked Donald Gibbons, an instructor at the Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical Centers.

The sudden closure of a highway carrying 30,000 vehicles daily and disruptions at the port will impact not just thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to experience shipping delays.

The governors of New York and New Jersey offered to handle disrupted cargo shipments to mitigate supply chain disruptions.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized the Biden administration’s focus on reopening the port and reconstructing the bridge, although no specific timeline was provided. Buttigieg scheduled a meeting on Thursday with supply chain officials.

According to the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, between 1960 and 2015, there were 35 major bridge collapses worldwide resulting from ship or barge collisions.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x