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Bridge Collapse in Baltimore

On March 16, 2024, at 1:30 AM, the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in Baltimore, Maryland. The collapse was caused by a cargo ship that hit the bridge while leaving the Port of Baltimore for Singapore. With construction workers and vehicles crossing the bridge at the time, lives were lost. Authorities continue to search for the remains of a few while also planning for the complex and dangerous task of removing tons of tangled steel.

As the whole bridge collapsed, the wrecked bridge scraps jutting out of the water made it dangerous and difficult for authorities to search for the missing workers. These individuals were on the bridge fixing potholes when the cargo ship struck. Despite a desperate full fledged search, the Coast Guard announced that the remaining individuals were presumed to be dead. According to CBS News, these workers were originally from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, and have been identified as Miguel Luna, Dorlian Cabrera, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, Jose Mynor Lopez, and Carlos (full name has not been released). 

While still searching for missing victims, authorities are also working towards bridge recovery. Large cranes are being used to lift and clear debris in the Patapsco River that were provided by the US Navy. However, these cranes can only sustain a weight of 1,000 tons and the weight of the bridge is between 3,000 to 4,000 tons. The only solution is to cut large pieces of the bridge structure into smaller pieces and then lift them from the river. This task will prove to be time consuming and dangerous in that engineers will need to continuously assess the stability of the structure as pieces are removed. Heavier machinery and equipment are expected to arrive in the following weeks including salvage vessels, Coast Guard and tug boats, floating cranes, and barges. Meanwhile, authorities are making efforts to clear the waterway efficiently so that the search for the remaining victims can resume. The salvage efforts are estimated to take weeks to clear the debris from the river. 

 Additionally, ship traffic into and out of the waterway of the Port of Baltimore is suspended until further notice, bringing the threat of an economic fallout. The Port of Baltimore is one of the busiest ports in the United States for cars and light trucks and goods from all over the world. It is unclear when transporting goods at the port will return to normal operations. Unfortunately, this will also have an effect on dock workers who rely on the busy port. To help these workers, the Maryland Department of Labor created a hotline for unemployment insurance and other nearby ports are making adjustments to accommodate cargo shipments that would have otherwise gone to Baltimore.

As a result of this devastating event, the importance of rebuilding infrastructure, fortifying existing bridges, rail tracks and roads are at the forefront of discussions in many cities and states across the US. The seaworthiness of many large cargo vessels and their maintenance will also have to be evaluated. Authorities are working day and night for the safety of the people of Maryland and hope that in the next few weeks, the families of the victims are consoled by a successful search for loved ones. It will take weeks to months to open the waterway for cargo transit, and may take years to rebuild the bridge 


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