United States

Baltimore's Key Bridge Blown Up In Controlled Explosion

A cargo ship collision caused the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, killing six workers. After weather delays, demolition crews broke apart the bridge on Monday. The controlled explosion aimed to free the ship, which remains at the scene.

The explosives flashed orange and let off plumes of black smoke upon detonation. Photo: AP

An incident unfolded on March 26th as a cargo ship, the Dali, collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge, leading to its collapse and the loss of six lives among construction workers. The aftermath of this has been a focal point of recovery efforts, with Monday witnessing a significant step forward as demolition operations commenced to clear the wreckage.

The demolition, initially scheduled over the weekend, faced delays due to adverse weather conditions. However, Monday saw the resumption of efforts, marked by controlled explosions that disintegrated sections of the collapsed bridge. These operations aim not only to clear the debris but also to facilitate the extraction of the Dali, which remains stationed at the scene, cloaked in remnants of the bridge's structure.

The collision, which caused an estimated 4,000 tonnes of debris to plunge into the Patapsco River, has brought attention to the safety protocols governing maritime navigation. The 948ft (289m) Dali, immobilized since the accident, hosted 21 crew members, predominantly of Indian origin, who sought refuge aboard during Monday's detonations.

Officials overseeing the demolition affirmed its adherence to the devised plan, emphasizing the meticulousness required to execute precision cuts aimed at freeing the Dali. The vessel, scheduled to return to the Port of Baltimore post-extraction, has been a focal point in restoring maritime operations disrupted by the collapse.

The closure of the port, a vital artery for diverse commodities and the nation's foremost hub for car shipments, has reverberated through supply chains, impacting transportation networks nationwide. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg underscored these ramifications, acknowledging the disruption to supply chains in a recent interview with the BBC.

Also, Maryland authorities estimate a staggering $1.9 billion expenditure and a timeline exceeding four years for the reconstruction of the bridge, underscoring the long-term implications of the disaster.

As investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board continue, legal proceedings have already commenced.

Baltimore has filed a lawsuit against the ship's owners, Grace Ocean Private Limited, and its manager, Synergy Marine Private Limited, accusing them of negligence and recklessness. The companies have petitioned the court to restrict their liability in the matter.