FBI opens criminal probe in Baltimore bridge collapse, fourth body recovered

In World
April 16, 2024


The FBI said on Monday it opened a criminal probe into the collapse of a Baltimore bridge in March when a ship crashed into a bridge support, while local officials confirmed the recovery of a fourth body from the incident.

FBI agents boarded the cargo ship Dali to conduct court-authorized law enforcement activity regarding the crash, an FBI spokesperson said. The spokesperson said there was no other public information available and the bureau would have no further comment.

The body of a fourth victim was recovered on Monday after divers spotted what they believed to be a missing construction vehicle, inside which they found the body, the Key Bridge Unified Command said in a statement. Details surrounding the victim’s identity were not made public at the request of the family.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River in the early morning of March 26, killing six men who were working on the span at the time, after the massive container ship lost power and crashed into a support pylon. The bodies of two victims are still missing.

The investigation into the collapse will focus in part on whether the crew of the Dali left the port knowing the freighter had serious problems with its systems, the Washington Post reported earlier.

Safety investigators have recovered the ship’s “black box” recorder, which provides data on its position, speed, heading, radar, and bridge audio and radio communications, as well as alarms.

The city of Baltimore said on Monday it hired two law firms – DiCello Levitt and Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky Trial Lawyers – as it considered litigation against the owner, charterer and operator of the ship.

The registered owner of the Singapore-flagged ship is Grace Ocean Pte Ltd. Synergy Marine Group managed the ship and Maersk chartered the vessel.

The head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board separately told Congress last week that its investigators had interviewed key cargo ship personnel as part of its probe.

Work to clear the wreckage and restore traffic through the Baltimore port’s shipping channel continues.

Replacing the bridge will likely take years, but authorities have opened two temporary channels to allow some shallow-draft vessels to move around the stricken container vessel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said two weeks ago that it expected to open a new channel to the Port of Baltimore by the end of April.

When the crash occurred, the Dali was leaving Baltimore en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a crew of 21, plus two pilots on board to guide it out of the port.

The same ship was involved in an incident in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016, when it hit a quay as it tried to exit a North Sea container terminal.

An inspection in June 2023 carried out in San Antonio, Chile, found the vessel had propulsion and auxiliary machinery deficiencies, according to data on the public Equasis website, which provides information on ships.

According to Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority, the vessel passed foreign port inspections last June and September.

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