• Saturday, April 20, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Baltimore crash: US authorities question ship crew

US agency National Transportation Safety Board has collected documents, voyage data recorder extracts, and other evidence from the ship as part of their investigation

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators work on the cargo vessel Dali, which struck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. March 27, 2024. (Peter Knudson/NTSB/Handout via REUTERS)

By: Shajil Kumar

US authorities have begun interviewing personnel, including Indian crew members, onboard the crippled container ship ‘Dali’ that collided against a key bridge in Baltimore this week.

The 2.6-km-long, four-lane Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River, came crashing down after the 984-foot ship collided against it.

Shipping company Synergy Group, which manages the Singapore-flagged ‘DALI’, said in a statement on Thursday (28) that the US agency National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) boarded the vessel on Wednesday (27) and collected documents, voyage data recorder extracts, and other evidence as part of their investigation.

“The NTSB also began interviewing crew members. We will continue to cooperate with investigators throughout this process,” Synergy said.

DALI’s owners Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and Synergy had confirmed the safety of all crew members and two pilots aboard the vessel.

They, however, reported one minor injury and said the injured crew member had been treated and discharged from the hospital.

The ship managers have activated their mental health team to provide trauma counselling for crew members feeling distressed, and that service will continue.

Indian embassy efforts

The Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi said that there are 20 Indians onboard the cargo ship and the Indian Embassy is in close touch with them and the local authorities.

MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said the Indian Embassy in the US is in “close touch with the Indians onboard the ship and also local authorities”.

The Embassy has created a dedicated hotline for any Indian citizens who may be affected or require assistance due to the tragedy.

Six people, all Latin American immigrants, who were part of a construction crew repairing potholes on the bridge when the collision occurred on March 26, are presumed dead.

Divers recovered the bodies of two of the construction workers from a red pickup truck found submerged in the Patapsco River and the search is on for the remaining four victims.

US transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg has stated that restoration effort for the city and port won’t be quick.

$60 million relief

The U.S. government awarded the state of Maryland $60 million in federal emergency relief in response to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, an extraordinarily fast disbursement after such a disaster.

Maryland governor Wes Moore had requested the $60 million earlier on Friday, and the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration approved the request within hours.

Such funding typically takes days, but president Joe Biden told reporters on Tuesday that he directed the federal government to “move heaven and earth” to quickly rebuild the bridge. (Agencies)

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