Baltimore residents question robustness of cargo ship that struck bridge

A New Zealander in Baltimore says people are questioning whether the ship that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge should have left the dock.

Large container ship The Dali struck the bridge in the US state of Maryland around 1.30am, local time, sending a chunk of it plunging into the Patapsco River below.

Six people are missing and now presumed dead.

New Zealander Scott Preston told Midday Report there were reports emerging of the ship getting into difficulty before it issued a mayday call.

“A friend of mine works at the port and said there were issues with that ship before it left the dock. [The authorities] will have investigations going on, finding out whether someone should’ve said this ship shouldn’t go,” he said.

“Or maybe it should have had the tug boats guiding it out into the bay before it goes on its own.”

The ship had reported a power issue prior to hitting the bridge.

The mood in Baltimore was sombre, with everybody thinking of the families of the six missing construction workers who were on the bridge when it collapsed, Preston said.

“[Authorities] rescued two, there are six still being looked for. It was pretty cold yesterday, the water’s pretty cold, we’re just getting out of winter.

“The chances of surviving that fall and then [being] in that water is pretty unlikely,” he said.

Local police had since declared that the workers were presumed dead and rescue efforts had been suspended.

The bridge had 56 metres of vertical clearance, and opened in 1977. It was part of key a key beltway – the Interstate 695 route – and carried 11.3 million vehicles annually.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 26: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 26, 2024 in Washington, DC. The bridge collapsed after its support column was hit by a container ship overnight. According to reports, rescuers are still searching for multiple people, while two survivors have been pulled from the Patapsco River.   Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The impact of the collapse on Baltimore and the wider Maryland state was also slowly being realised, Preston said.

The port was one of America’s busiest.

“It’s going to be shut down for a while. Obviously the shipping containers are going to go to other ports along the east coast. They’ll try to clear that channel, get the wreckage of the bridge taken away and try to get ships coming back through there, while they try to work out what they’re going to do [in terms of] a replacement bridge.

“But I don’t see that happening any time soon. That’s going to be years down the track before a new bridge is in place,” he said.

US President Joe Biden had promised the federal government would pay for the entire cost of repairs to the bridge.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was not aware of any New Zealanders being among those unaccounted for.

In a statement, it said one New Zealander was registered on SafeTravel as being in Baltimore.

“We are not aware of any New Zealanders being caught up in this tragic incident, but will continue to monitor the situation,” a ministry spokesperson said.

– RNZ / Reuters

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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