Before hitting the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, the crew of the freighter Dali noticed an engine malfunction. And he warned by launching a Mayday. The freighter sent the alarm, giving authorities time to stop traffic and attempt an evacuation. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that the six workers missing in the collapse were presumed dead. And he announces the suspension of the search for survivors. The six missing people were carrying out repair work. Among them are citizens of Guatemalan and Mexican origin. Investigators are also examining the thirteen damaged containers – some containing potentially hazardous materials – that were on board the ship.


Among the damaged containers, “some with contents involving Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and/or hazardous materials (HAZMAT)” are being examined by an elite Coast Guard team, according to a memo from the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. While the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation, which will need to establish the dynamics that led the Dali to collide with the bridge, will likely also address the fatigue conditions of the ship's crew. Grace Ocean owns 55 vessels, according to Equasis, a public database of vessel information. Dali had 22 Indian crew members on board, according to a press release from Grace Ocean and Synergy Marine. No one was hurt. Meanwhile, the American Commanders' Association reports that the ship suffered a total breakdown before hitting the bridge.

Total breakdown

The pilot did “everything he could” to slow the ship and keep it from drifting toward the bridge, said Clay Diamond, executive director and general counsel of the American Pilots Association. “A few minutes before the accident, there was a total blackout, meaning the ship lost engine and electrical power,” he told CNN. Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, said another worker was hospitalized. One of their colleagues said the workers were on break at the time of the collapse and some were sitting in their trucks.

20 seconds

The Baltimore Bridge collapsed within 20 seconds after one of its central pylons was struck by the container ship, likely damaged as it exited the port. Images show the white steel structure sagging and collapsing onto the cargo ship and its mountain of colorful containers. Authorities have ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack. “From the first investigations, it appears to be a terrible accident, there is no indication of intentional acts,” Joe Biden confirmed live on television from the White House. According to Maryland authorities, the ship had a power problem. In the images, you can see the cargo emitting a column of black smoke before impact. The power outage occurred for 60 seconds at 1:24 a.m. (local time). Immediately afterwards, the lights went out.

The Dali ship

The Dali hit the bridge at 1:28 a.m., about half an hour after leaving Baltimore Harbor. The bridge collapsed four seconds later. The cargo, flying the flag of Singapore and bound for Sri Lanka, belongs to Grace Ocean Pte Ltd., managed by the Synergy Marine Group, which in turn leased it to the Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Cover photo of: Reuters

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