Baltimore bridge collapse: two fathers named among victims

By George Wright and Bernd Debusmann Jr, BBC News

Six people, including a father of three originally from El Salvador and a father of two originally from Honduras, are now presumed dead after a container ship hit Baltimore’s iconic Francis Scott Key Bridge early on Tuesday.

The US Coast Guard said it had concluded the men have died and that it intends to suspend its massive search and rescue effort.

All were believed to be members of a pothole-repair crew who were working on the bridge and are citizens of Latin American countries.

Little information has been released about their identities, but here’s what we know so far.

Boats and helicopters have been taking part in a huge operation to search for the six missing people. Two others have been pulled from the water on Tuesday, with one in a serious condition.

The six workers were citizens of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

One of the missing workers from El Salvador was identified as Miguel Luna by the non-profit organization Casa, which provides services to the immigrant community in Baltimore, as well as by the country’s foreign minister.

“He is a husband, a father of three, and has called Maryland his home for over 19 years,” Casa executive director Gustavo Torres said in a statement.

Marvin Luna, son of Miguel Luna, told the Washington Post that he knew his father was on the bridge overnight but did not know it had collapsed until friends called him and said: “The bridge is gone.”

Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandova

Honduras’s migrant protection service has identified a second victim as Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval.

El Heraldo, a Honduran newspaper, has reported that he was from Santa Barbara department in the country’s west.

Sandoval’s brother told NBC News that the family was informed of his disappearance just hours after the bridge collapsed in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“The hope we have is to be able to see the body,” Sandoval’s brother was quoted as saying. “We want to see him, find him, know whether he is dead, because we don’t know anything.”

Sandoval had lived in the US for the past 18 years and was married with two children, a five-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son, his brother told US media.

Some of Sandoval’s family members paid tribute to him on social media as news emerged that he was among the missing.

“I can’t believe this Maynor, that Friday would be the last time I saw you,” one woman wrote in Spanish on Facebook. “I will always remember you.”

Guatemala’s foreign affairs ministry has also confirmed that two of the workers were Guatemalan nationals, from the regions of Petén and Chiquimula, but has not yet named them.

On Wednesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed that two of the missing are Mexican nationals. A third was rescued, he added.

He declined to give further details, noting that the family asked officials to keep their details private.

The six men were employed by Brawner Builders, a local contractor that carries out maintenance work on bridges in Maryland state.

Jesus Campos, a worker originally from El Salvador, speaks about his coworkers who were working on the night shift while repairing the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the time of the accident when it collapsed after a Singapore-flagged container ship called the Dali collided with it along a shipping channel in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. The bridge collapsed early March 26 after being struck by the Singapore-flagged Dali container ship, sending multiple vehicles and people plunging into the frigid harbor below. There was no immediate confirmation of the cause of the disaster, but Baltimore's Police Commissioner Richard Worley said there was "no indication" of terrorism. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

Jesus Campos, who has worked on the bridge for the company and knows members of the crew, said he was told they were on a break and some were sitting in their trucks.

“I know that a month ago, I was there, and I know what it feels like when the trailers pass,” Campos told the Associated Press.

“Imagine knowing that is falling. It is so hard. One would not know what to do.”

“They were wonderful family people,” Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice-president of Brawner Builders, told the New York Times, adding that the six men had “spouses, children”.

“It’s just a very, very bad day.”

– This story was first published by the BBC

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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