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Emergency bill would pay Port of Baltimore workers impacted by Key Bridge collapse

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CBS News Baltimore Live

BALTIMORE -- Maryland lawmakers are drafting emergency legislation for income replacement to assist thousands of Port of Baltimore workers impacted by the Tuesday collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge

The bridge crumbled early Tuesday after a strut was hit by a large container ship that had lost power, sending eight people into the Patapsco River. Search operations are ongoing Wednesday for six people, who are presumed dead. 

"The human cost of lives lost yesterday is overwhelming and tragic. The economic and stability loss to the thousands impacted in the days ahead cannot be understated," Senate President Bill Ferguson said in a social media post Wednesday. 

Ferguson, a Democrat, said he is joining Del. Luke Clippinger and other delegates representing the port to procure the emergency funding. 

No further details were immediately available about the bill. 

An economic lifeline

The Port of Baltimore is the ninth busiest port in the United States, according to census data, and handled more than $80 billion in import-exports in 2023, the most in 20 years. It is also home to Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian cruise lines.

Directly, the port supports 15,300 jobs, while another 140,000 in the area are related to port activities. The jobs provide a combined $3.3 billion in personal income, according to a CBS News report

All vessel traffic in and out of the port was suspended in the wake of the collapse, but it will remain open for trucks. The Port of Baltimore said Tuesday that it is unclear how long ship traffic will be suspended.  

Search for victims ongoing

The six men missing were working for Brawner Builders, filling potholes on the center span of the bridge, at the time of the collapse.

Search and rescue operations were suspended at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday as officials transitioned to recovery efforts. The search resumed Wednesday morning. The Coast Guard is leading the recovery mission.

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