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Massive Key Bridge span demolished from bow of Dali container ship: 'Important milestone'

Demolition of Key Bridge collapse from Dali a success
Demolition of Key Bridge collapse from Dali a success 04:19

BALTIMORE - The removal of a 4,000-ton piece of the Key Bridge collapse from the Dali cargo ship using explosives unfolded successfully Monday evening and is a critical piece of the recovery. 

It comes almost seven weeks since the disaster killed six construction workers, crippled the Port of Baltimore and cut access to the Beltway. 

Video showed the steel pieces falling into the water. 

This explosion, which was initially supposed to take place over the weekend, took seconds and sounded like a quick fireworks show.

Video shows up close footage of demolition of Key Bridge on cargo ship 00:16

Unified Command maintains the plan to fully reopen the main channel in the Patapsco River and access to the Port of Baltimore by the end of May remains on track.

"Today we achieved an important milestone," said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

What happened?

Small explosive devices were placed throughout the span of the bridge and detonated them all within a few seconds.

Cuts were made in the steel where explosives were placed and then were covered with what looked like heavy-duty tape. 

The explosion sounded like fireworks and those within 2,000 yards were asked to wear hearing protection.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called this process the "safest and swiftest" way to remove the thousands of tons of wreckage pinning the massive ship. 

The controlled detonation sent the truss into the Patapsco River in pieces. Officials shared an animation of the process.

Through it all, more than 20 crew members remained onboard. 

"They're staying on board because they're part of the ship. They are necessary to keep the ship safe and operational," said Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath, from the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Safety is top priority

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore spoke about the high-stakes operation—the many small explosives timed just right—to allow the tons of steel to fall away from the ship and into the Patapsco River. 

It had been delayed twice due to the weather. 

"Safety in this operation is our top priority. We've gotten to this mission without a single injury," Moore said. 

Getting Dali refloated

Colonel Estee Pinchasin, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the next step is to remove the Dali.

It will still take a couple of days to remove the ship and open the channel.

"Once the wreckage falls into the channel, we will have the vessel refloated," Pinchasin said. "Our salvors already have the equipment ready to retrieve the wreckage just as we have over the last seven weeks. They're going to have to either lift it with the grabber and remove it after cutting it down some more."

Body-worn camera footage shows response

Newly-obtained body-worn camera video from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources showed the initial response from police in the dark, debris-filled river after the bridge fell on March 26.

The video shows the dramatic response as officers traveled to the wreckage site by boat. One clip shows an officer approaching the Dali and speaking with the crew.

Message for bridge collapse victims

The governor had a message today for the families of the six victims who died. The final body was recovered last week. 

"I promised we would do everything in our power to bring your family members back, and I pray that the fulfillment of our word can bring you some peace," Gov. Wes Moore said. 

Law firms to assist potential lawsuits

Maryland's Attorney General assembled five law firms to assist in any potential litigation.

The Maryland Transportation Authority Board has approved a request for a "contingent fee contract" for a team of law firms that will work as the attorney general's assistant counsel to pursue litigation against the parties responsible for the Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse. 

The contingent fee arrangement means that outside counsel will be paid for any damages recovered by the state. The request will now be submitted to the Board of Public Works (BPW) for approval at its meeting on Wednesday, May 15. 

"On behalf of the affected state agencies and the people of Maryland, we will pursue compensation from the responsible parties for the damages caused by the M/V Dali's allision with the Key Bridge," said Attorney General Brown. "To do that effectively, the OAG has assembled a team of law firms that has deep expertise in maritime disasters, tort litigation, insurance recovery, and dispute resolution." 

Those law firms include Kelley Drye & Warren, Liskow and Lewis, Partridge LLC, The Lanier Firm, and, serving as local counsel, the Maryland firm of Downs Ward Bender Herzog & Kintigh.

"Those who need to be held responsible for this tragedy will be held responsible. Lloyds of London indicated this is going to be the most expensive maritime tragedy in our history, and we are very confident that those who need to be held to account will be held to account, and they will be part of this rebuilding process," Moore said.

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