The bodies of two of the six workers who died in the icy waters of Baltimore Harbor on the US East Coast were recovered on Wednesday, authorities said, the day after a bridge collapsed spectacularly when a giant cargo ship crashed into its pier. containers.

“Shortly after 10:00 a.m., divers located a red semi-truck at a depth of approximately 7.6 meters,” Maryland police, in Baltimore’s home state, explained during a press conference. “Two victims of the tragedy were trapped inside the vehicle.”

The recovered bodies were identified. They are two men aged 35 and 26, members of a crew of road construction workers who were repairing the pavement of the Francis Scott Key Bridge when the accident occurred.

The bodies of the remaining four colleagues, who the day before Tuesday it became clear from the authorities that they were now considered dead, have not yet been located, the authorities added.

Because of the amount of concrete and debris at the crash site, divers are “no longer able to safely navigate” toward “what we believe to be the trapped vehicles,” said Roland Butler of the Maryland State Police.

It will therefore first be necessary to remove the obstructing part of the bridge to allow safe access for divers, he explained.

The victims were repairing the roadway of the 2.6-kilometer-long bridge when large sections of it collapsed into the Patapsco River at around 01:30 (local time; 07:30 Greek time) yesterday Tuesday, according to authorities.

The authorities had warned the day before yesterday that they no longer believed that they would “find these people alive”.

Two crew members managed to be rescued immediately after the accident.

The missing workers were mostly Mexican and Guatemalan nationals.

The Singapore-flagged container cargo ship Dali was departing the port bound for Asia when it collided head-on with a bridge pillar.

The bridge, used by tens of thousands of vehicles every day, collapsed like a house of cards — part of it ended up on the ship’s deck.

It was “not designed to withstand” such a collision

The huge truck, with a length of 300 meters, is “stable”, Peter Gauthier, an officer of the US Coast Guard, assured yesterday, adding that the vessel does not pose any danger either to the environment or to the inhabitants, although in its hold there are 5.6 billion liters of diesel fuel and on deck some containers of hazardous materials.

Two containers, out of a total of 4,700, fell into the water.

The death toll could have been much heavier if the ship’s crew, who lost control of the engine and navigation systems for some time due to a power outage, had not sent out a distress signal.

His warning allowed the authorities to close in extremis part of the road bridge.

The data of the investigation so far indicate that it was an accident, according to the American authorities.

According to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttige, “this type of bridge (…) is not designed to withstand a head-on collision with a critical support pillar.”

Dramatic CCTV footage shows the container ship veer off course and crash into a pillar of the bridge, which opened in 1977, causing it to collapse.

The crew made a desperate attempt to slow the ship down by dropping anchor.

Jennifer Homedy, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said a team recovered the cargo ship’s data recorders, critical to the investigation.

“The Cost of Reconstruction”

The US president pledged that “the federal government will pay the full cost of rebuilding” the bridge, which bears the name of the lyricist of the US national anthem. However, Joe Biden admitted that it will take a lot of time to complete the project.

“We will stand with the citizens of Baltimore for as long as it takes,” he assured last night via X (formerly Twitter).

The stake is primarily economic: the 1.6-mile (2.6 km) four-lane bridge is part of a north-south roadway critical to the US East Coast economy.

For now, marine traffic at the Port of Baltimore has been “suspended until further notice,” according to authorities. It is the ninth largest in the country based on activity and employs over 15,000 people.

The Dali, 300 meters long and 48 meters wide, is owned by Grace Ocean Pt Ltd, managed by Synergy Marine Corp and chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk. Its 22 crew members are safe. He had sailed for Sri Lanka.

Singapore’s Port Authority said it successfully passed two inspections in 2023 and that a faulty fuel pressure gauge was repaired in June.

Chilean port authorities also reported in 2023 that the Dali had experienced engine failure, which they said was quickly repaired.