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Key Bridge collapse: The latest on salvage efforts, victims and impact

Crews assessing temporary channel for vessels around Key Bridge collapse site
Crews assessing temporary channel for vessels around Key Bridge collapse site 02:31

BALTIMORE -- The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed when it was struck on March 26 by a cargo ship carrying 56 containers of hazardous materials.

Eight construction workers were repairing potholes in the bridge when the vessel made contact, sending them into the Patapsco River. Two of the workers were rescued, the bodies of two were recovered and four remain missing and are presumed dead.

Crews paused the search and recovery efforts and turned their focus to salvage and cleanup efforts.

Here's what we know right now:

Heavy equipment arrives at Key Bridge collapse site 

Heavy equipment arrived at the bridge collapse site on Friday to begin the massive cleanup effort and clear the channel to reopen the Port of Baltimore.

The U.S. Navy is supplying four heavy-lift cranes to help lift 3,000 to 4,000 tons of bridge debris. The fourth is expected to arrive on Monday.

Crews are mapping the Patapsco River, including all of the debris both above and below the waterline because of the precarious position of the steel trusses and chunks of concrete, some resting on the bow of the ship.

"They're all working diligently to figure out the right plan to be able to break that bridge up into the right-size pieces that we can lift," said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath. 

While there is no timetable for removing the debris and getting the Port of Baltimore open again, there is urgency as the economic impact grows every day the port is closed. 

"I want this done quickly. I want it done right," Gov. Wes Moore said.

The governor's office told WJZ that efforts will be "round-the-clock" until the Port of Baltimore is back open.

Creating a temporary path for vessels 

The Unified Command started removing debris on Saturday, March 30 from the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Crews are breaking the northern section of the bridge into smaller pieces in hopes of moving enough pieces to open up a temporary, restricted channel that would allow for more vessels at the crash site.

"This will mark an important first step along the road to reopening the port of Baltimore," said Capt. David O'Connell, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, Key Bridge Response 2024. "By opening this alternate route, we will support the flow of marine traffic into Baltimore."

A 200-ton piece was hauled from the bridge Sunday.

This action is part of a phased approach to opening the main channel, according to the mayor's office 

The temporary channel will be marked with government-lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and a vertical clearance of 96 feet.

The current 2,000-yard safety zone around the Francis Scott Key Bridge remains in effect and is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative, the mayor's office said.

A survey is also underway to determine how hard the ground is around the Dali to help come up with a strategy for removal.

Two crane barges, a 650-ton crane, and a 330-ton crane are working at the scene. The 230-ton land-based crane will offload and process the wreckage at Tradepoint Atlantic and will then be taken to a disposal site. 

The Unified Command efforts are being led by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, and Maryland State Police along with Witt O'Brien's Synergy Marine. 

Gas-powered cutters are being used by salvage teams to separate sections of the steel bridge, which will then be taken to a disposal site. Simultaneously, salvage divers will take underwater assessments to determine further operations. 

"Every lifting operation requires engineering analysis to inform salvage operation plans," the office of Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said. 

The Unified Command is also working with BGE to reduce the pressure of an underwater pipeline that spans the width of the channel and runs underneath the site of the incident. The Command wants to move the pipeline to prevent any hazards or risks.  

The Baltimore district of the Army Corps of Engineers activated its Emergency Operations Center, which clears the way for more than 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists to provide support to local, state and federal agencies.

They are patrolling the waters of the Harbor and Patapsco River for drift and debris that could be hazardous to navigation.

Money available for workers impacted by bridge collapse  

Thousands of jobs are directly impacted by the Key Bridge collapse.

Gov. Moore announced federal funding is being secured to help workers make up for lost income.

The Small Business Administration is also approving a disaster declaration in the wake of the bridge collapse, which means small businesses affected by the collapse can now apply for disaster loan assistance from the federal government.

Applications are now open and should be submitted online at this website by December 30, 2024.

Maryland receives initial funding for bridge cleanup  

Maryland was approved an initial $60 million in federal funding for the cleanup and recovery response.

The state sent a letter of request for Emergency Relief funding for mobilization, operations and debris recovery.

President Joe Biden said that he intends to push the federal government to pay for the entire reconstruction of the bridge, and pledged to work with Maryland leaders to provide as much support as possible.  

"It is my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect the Congress to support my effort," Biden said, adding that he plans to visit Baltimore as soon as he can.

The $60 million estimate made by the state of Maryland for initial expenses is, at most, just 10% of the estimated cost for response to the disaster, CBS News has learned following a Maryland Congressional delegation meeting.

The Maryland delegation talked about likely costs exceeding $1 billion and a "need for an emergency supplemental" aid package from Congress.  

No drone zone 

The FBI said several people have illegally tried to fly drones over the collapse site, which interferes with recovery operations. 

There is a ban within a three-mile radius and 1,500 feet high and below. 

 "It's unsafe for the crews to be out there working. If we have any aircraft whether it be fixed wing or rotary aircraft, it's going to interfere with them, so we have to cease operations if there is a drone. We understand drone enthusiasts want to be out here and capture these images but it's dangerous, and it's going to shut down operations," FBI Special Agent David Rodski told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. "By the way, we're going to find you and we're going to fine you. These are federal changes, and these are significant felony charges.

Port of Baltimore shut down for vessels 

All ship and vessel traffic has been suspended from in and out of the port, but it has remained open for trucks.

The port is the ninth-busiest in the United States, according to Census data, and handled more than $80 billion in import and exports last year, 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

"The most urgent priority is to open the Port of Baltimore because it is essential to the livelihood of people here in Baltimore, in Maryland, and the economies across our country and around the world," U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen said in a news conference Wednesday.

Maryland lawmakers are drafting emergency legislation for income replacement to assist thousands of Port of Baltimore workers impacted by the disruption. 

Final stop: Norfolk, Virginia 

Carnival Cruise Line's Legend ship docked on Sunday in Norfolk, Virginia, a week after it took off at the Port of Baltimore.

The passengers on the cruise ship were offered complimentary bus rides back to their cars at the port.

It is unclear how many cruise voyages the Key Bridge collapse has impacted..

What we know about NTSB investigation? 

The National Transportation Safety Board said Maryland Transportation Authority Police had about 90 seconds to stop traffic on the bridge and get people off before the vessel struck.

Twenty-one members and two pilots were onboard DALI, a 948-foot vessel managed by Synergy Marine Group, a Singapore-based company with over 660 ships under management around the world, according to its website.

The vessel had 56 containers — 764 tons — of corrosive, flammable material and batteries, according to NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy, adding that some of the containers were breached. One of the hazardous materials was sheen, which is used in paint, that leaked into the Patapsco River.

According to Homendy, at 1:27 a.m., the pilot ordered crews to drop the anchor and called for tugs, and told officials the boat had lost power and was headed toward the bridge. The cargo ship struck the bridge at 8 mph just before 1:30 a.m.

When will the Port of Baltimore reopen? 

Construction workers, contracted by Brawner Builders, were on the Key Bridge when the cargo ship, Dali, lost power and crashed into Baltimore's iconic bridge.

The men were originally from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

 One of the missing workers from El Salvador was identified as Miguel Luna by the nonprofit organization CASA. 

Maryland State Police identified the two men found in the red pickup truck as Dorlian Cabrera, 26, who was originally from Guatemala and lived in Dundalk; and Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, who lived in Baltimore and was from Mexico.

The Honduran Consulate confirmed Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, 34, was among the missing. His brother, Carlos Alexis, described him as a kind, big-hearted and funny family man who came to the U.S. when he was about 20. He had a teenage son and a 5-year-old daughter.

Jose Mynor Lopez35, was originally from Guatemala. His wife, Isabel Franco, told WJZ he moved to the U.S. 19 years ago and was a loving father to their child and three stepchildren

"He had a good heart. He was a hard worker. He was always worried about his family too. He died but he was fighting for us always," she said in Spanish.

The sixth victim, a man named Carlos whose full name has not been released, was also from Mexico. 

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