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Heartfelt Condolences On 'Unfortunate Accident' At Baltimore Bridge: Indian Embassy In US

The ship's crew -- all Indian, 22 in total -- issued a mayday call moments before the crash took down the Francis Scott Key Bridge, enabling authorities to limit vehicle traffic on the span, Maryland's governor said.

AP
Indian Embassy condoles the Baltimore Bridge Accident Photo: AP
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The Indian Embassy in Washington condoled the "unfortunate accident" after a cargo ship lost power and rammed into a major bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday, destroying the span in a matter of seconds and plunging it into the river in a terrifying collapse that could disrupt a vital shipping port for months. Six people were missing.

The ship's crew --  all Indian, 22 in total -- issued a mayday call moments before the crash took down the Francis Scott Key Bridge, enabling authorities to limit vehicle traffic on the span, Maryland's governor said.

Owners and managers of the Singapore-flagged container ship “Dali” report that the vessel collided with one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore, whilst under pilotage with two pilots onboard, at approximately 01:30 local time on March 26, ship management company Synergy Marine Group said in a statement.

"Our heartfelt condolences to all affected by the unfortunate accident at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore," the Indian Embassy said in a post on X.

The Embassy said it has created a dedicated hotline "for any Indian citizens that may be affected/require assistance".

The Embassy is ascertaining details regarding the vessel's crew. The "Dali" had an “all Indian” crew of 22 people onboard, according to ship management company Synergy Marine Group.

The ship, outbound from Baltimore to Colombo, struck a 1.6-mile-long, four-lane bridge in Baltimore in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Shortly after the collision, the bridge collapsed, crashing on the cargo ship.

Grace Ocean Private Ltd owns the vessel with a capacity of 10,000 TEU, with onboard units totalling 4,679 TEU. The vessel’s tons deadweight is 116,851 DWT.

The crew alerted transportation personnel about losing control of the vessel, enabling authorities to close the Baltimore bridge to traffic before the devastating collision, “undoubtedly” saving lives, US President Joe Biden said.

"Personnel onboard the ship were able to alert the Maryland Department of Transportation that they had lost control of their vessel. As a result, local authorities were able to close the bridge to traffic before the bridge was struck, which undoubtedly saved lives,” Biden said in remarks made in the White House on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

Biden said that the investigation into the collision so far indicates “that this was a terrible accident. At this time, we have no other indication, no other reason to believe if there is any intentional act here”, Biden said. Biden said that two people have been rescued from the scene, one in critical condition, and search is ongoing for six more persons.

“We are going to send all the federal resources they need as we respond to this emergency. I mean all the federal resources and we're going to rebuild that port together,” Biden said.

Biden said the port of Baltimore is one of the nation's largest shipping hubs and handled a record amount of cargo last year. “It's also the top port in America (for) imports and exports of automobiles and light trucks, around 850,000 vehicles go through that port every year," he said.

“And we're gonna get it up and running again as soon as possible," Biden said adding that thousands of jobs depend on that port. “And we're going to do everything we can to protect those jobs and help those workers.”

Biden noted that the bridge is also critical for travel, not just for Baltimore, but for the Northeast corridor. Over 30,000 vehicles cross the Francis Scott Key Bridge daily and it is among the most important elements for the economy in the Northeast, he said.

The crew alerted authorities about a “power issue” before the collision, Maryland Governor Wes Moore said, adding that this Mayday call enabled workers to stop more vehicular traffic from coming onto the bridge. "We can confirm that the crew notified authorities of a power issue,” Moore told reporters.

Moore was asked whether the crew on the "Dali" ship alerted authorities about losing propulsion and was in trouble. “Yes”, Moore replied when asked whether the crew had lost power on the ship. Moore said the ship was coming in “at a very rapid speed”.

The ship lost power and rammed into the bridge, causing the span to buckle into the river below and plunging a construction crew and several vehicles into the dangerously cold waters.

"We do know that the investigation is currently going on. But I have to say I'm thankful for the folks who, once the warning came up and once notification came up that there was a Mayday, who literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge. These people are heroes, they saved lives last night,” he said.

Moore added that the preliminary investigation “points to an accident. We haven't seen any credible evidence of a terrorist attack”.

The US Coast Guard and local officials have been notified, and the owners and managers are fully cooperating with Federal and State government agencies under an approved plan. "We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected," Maersk said in a statement.

"We can confirm that the container vessel 'Dali', operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group, is time chartered by Maersk and is carrying Maersk customers’ cargo. No Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel," the statement said.

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"We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed," it said.

Governor Moore said that his office is in close communication with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, and the Baltimore Fire Department as emergency personnel are on the scene following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Moore has declared a State of Emergency in Maryland and said: "We are working with an interagency team to deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration.”

“We will remain in close contact with federal, state, and local entities carrying out rescue efforts as we continue to assess and respond to this tragedy,” he said.  

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