6 Feared Dead, Indian Crew Safe On Ship That Collided

6 Feared Dead, Indian Crew Safe On Ship That Collided

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Video footage showed the packed container ship slamming into one of the bridge’s supports

Six people are feared dead after a ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in US’ Baltimore on Tuesday causing it to collapse and plunge into water. Authorities have called off rescue operations, presuming that those missing have died in the collision.

The container ship Dali, manned entirely by an Indian crew, momentarily lost power and rammed into the bridge. While all 22 crew were unharmed and accounted for, six repairmen on the bridge have been missing. They were part of a construction crew working on repairing potholes on the bridge when it collapsed around midnight.

“Based on the length of time that we’ve gone in this search, the extensive search efforts that we put into it, the water temperature… at this point we do not believe that we’re going to find any of these individuals still alive,” US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said, as quoted by news agency AFP.

The police said they are now stepping away from search operations and moving on to recovery as the temperatures and currents in the water make it difficult for divers to stay underwater for long.

The Indian Embassy in US condoled the horrific crash and issued a helpline for any Indian citizens affected by the collision. “Our heartfelt condolences to all affected by the unfortunate accident at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. For any Indian citizens that may be affected/ require assistance, the Embassy of India has created a dedicated hotline: please reach out to us on +1-202-717-1996,” it wrote on X.

Crew tried to avert crisis

Around midnight on Tuesday, the ship experienced a momentary loss of propulsion due to which it was unable to control its direction. Expecting a collision with the 1977 bridge, the ship sent out an Mayday signal (distress call) to warn of the imminent crash. Anchors were dropped as a last ditch effort to stop the ship from moving forward.

The Maryland Governor Wes Moore said the distress call was crucial as it helped bridge officials to stop vehicles from going on it. When the ship hit the bridge, multiple vehicles and 20 people fell into the Patapsco River. Video footage showed the high-speed 300-metre container ship slamming into one of the bridge’s legs.

“We’re thankful that between the Mayday and the collapse that we had officials who were able to begin to stop the flow of traffic. These people are heroes. They saved lives last night,” Mr Moore said, according to AFP.

Some social media theories claimed the crash was a cyber attack on US and marked the “beginning of WW3”. However, the FBI and other US agencies said no they found connection that pointed to a terror plot behind the crash.

What happens next?

Search operation have been called off but overnight patrolling by boats will continue.

While the port has been closed “until further notice”, traffic is being diverted away from the bridge. Vehicular movement will be affected by the collapse as it was a vital connecting bridge in the area. Shipping may also be hit due to debris in the water.

The Maryland Governor declared a state of emergency and the authorities are monitoring for any fuel spill from the ship.

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