'These People are Heroes': Indian Crew Hailed By US President Biden And Others For Swift Action That Saved Lives In Key Bridge Collapse

The swift action of Indian crew members aboard a cargo ship, issuing a mayday distress call, has been hailed by US President Biden and other officials for their role in preventing casualties during the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. Their alertness and quick response averted potential disaster, showcasing their heroism amidst tragedy.

Indian Crew on 'Dali' Ship Lauded By US President Biden For Swift Action Photo: AP

US President Joe Biden commended local authorities for their swift response to the incident at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, one of the nation's busiest thoroughfares, which collapsed after being struck by a massive freight ship on Tuesday. Biden also extended special recognition to the crew of the ship, all of whom were Indians.

"Personnel on board the ship were able to alert the Maryland Department of Transportation that they had lost control of their vessel, as you all know and have reported. As a result, local authorities were able to close the bridge to traffic before the bridge was struck, which undoubtedly saved lives," said Biden during his address.

Tuesday witnessed the Singapore-flagged container ship Dali, setting sail from Baltimore with a full cargo bound for Sri Lanka, colliding with a concrete pier supporting the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

In a matter of seconds, nearly the entire bridge collapsed and descended into approximately 50 feet of icy water below, according to officials.

Moments prior to the collision, the ship issued a distress call, indicating a loss of power, prompting authorities to quickly halt traffic to the bridge, potentially preventing casualties.

CCTV footage captures the ship experiencing two power outages moments before the crash, accompanied by a visible puff of smoke preceding the collision.

Although all 22 crew members were unharmed and safely located, six construction workers repairing potholes on the bridge had been missing and are now presumed dead.

The governor of Maryland stated that the ship, traveling at a "rapid" speed of eight knots (equivalent to nine miles per hour), issued a Mayday distress call just before it struck the pillar of the bridge. Prompt action by authorities after the call prevented vehicles from entering the bridge.

"We're thankful that between the Mayday and the collapse that we had officials who were able to begin to stop the flow of traffic," Mr. Moore remarked, as reported by AFP.

"These people are heroes. They saved lives last night," he added.

The collision involving the Dali occurred around 1:30 am local time (11 am IST) on Tuesday when it struck a bridge pylon. As the bridge twisted and collapsed in segments, vehicles remained visible on the road surface, with the third section tilting upwards before plunging into the water.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott noted that maintenance workers were present on the bridge during the collision, describing the event as an "unthinkable tragedy... like something out of an action movie."

"We have to be thinking about the families and people impacted, folks who we have to try to find," he said.

In a statement, Maersk expressed deep concern over the incident in Baltimore and extended sympathy to all those impacted. The company confirmed that the container vessel "DALI," managed by charter vessel company Synergy Group, is under time charter by Maersk and is transporting cargo belonging to Maersk customers. It was clarified that no Maersk crew or personnel were aboard the vessel.