UPDATES: 2 Bodies In Baltimore Bridge Collapse Recovered; 4 Others Remain Missing

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The bodies of two of the six missing construction workers from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse were recovered Wednesday, Maryland authorities said at an afternoon news conference.

Maryland state police Superintendent Roland Butler Jr. said divers found the two victims trapped in a red pickup truck a little before 10 a.m. in about 25 feet of water around the bridge’s middle span. They were identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk, Maryland.

All six workers, who went missing after a cargo ship struck the bridge and sent it crumpling into the frigid Patapsco River early Tuesday, were presumed dead when the search-and-rescue mission trying to save them was called off in the evening. Two other workers were rescued Tuesday.

Even though four are still missing, Butler said the efforts will now transition from recovery to a salvage operation. The workers were on break at the time of the collapse and had been sitting in their trucks to warm up when the ship smashed into the bridge.

“Because of the superstructure surrounding what we believe are the vehicles, and the amount of concrete and debris, divers are no longer able to safely navigate or operate around that,” Butler said. “We firmly believe the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete that we tragically saw come down.’’

He said the six workers all hailed from Latin American countries − Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras − and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore addressed their families in Spanish at the news conference, telling them, “We’re with you, now and always.”

The Dali, a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel, lost power early Tuesday before colliding with a support column of the bridge, the second-longest continuous truss bridge span in the world, officials said. Though a “mayday” gave authorities on the ground time to halt traffic, eight construction workers on the bridge plunged into the river when the ship struck.


∎ Vice Admiral Peter Gautier, Deputy Commandant for Operations for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the Dali ship was carrying 4,700 cargo containers, including 56 with hazardous materials. Two containers fell in the river, Gautier said, but added, “The ones that are in the water do not contain hazardous materials.” He also said the ones aboard do not present a threat to the public.

∎ The Maryland Transportation Authority told USA TODAY there were multiple vehicles on the bridge at the time of the collision and that it is believed they all belonged to the construction workers.

∎ Scattered showers across Maryland and much of the Northeast on Wednesday may hamper the ongoing recovery effort, according to the National Weather Service. The potential rain is anticipated to worsen on Thursday as a large storm system moves over the area following a cold front. Officials have cited the temperature of the water as a major issue complicating divers’ ability to search the Patapsco River.

∎ Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board, which has assumed the probe of the collision, boarded the Dali overnight Tuesday and again Wednesday, the agency said via e-mail, adding, “NTSB has the data from the voyage data recorder in the NTSB lab.”

∎ The Maryland Transportation Authority told commuters to expect delays while taking alternative routes following the destruction of the bridge, a crossing that carries 11.3 million vehicles annually and is a vital artery for East Coast shipping.

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