Probe Begins Following Bridge Collapse

Federal investigators have launched a criminal probe into the Baltimore bridge collapse that resulted in the death of six construction workers. The tragic incident occurred on March 26, when a 110,000-ton cargo ship, named the Dali, collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse into the freezing river.

This has sparked concerns about the safety standards of the ship and its operator, Singapore-based company Grace Ocean Private. The criminal probe will focus on whether the 22 crew members on board the Dali were aware of any potential issues before departing the Maryland port.

As part of the investigation, agents have been seen arriving at the ship to speak with the crew, who are still onboard. In addition, Baltimore's mayor, Brandon Scott, has announced that the city is bringing in outside firms to hold all responsible entities accountable for the tragedy. He has also hired two law firms to sue Grace Ocean Private. These actions are a response to the ship's owner filing a petition to limit its liability shortly after the incident.

The criminal probe is separate from the ongoing federal investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB is examining the ship's electrical power system and requesting assistance from the manufacturer of equipment in the ship's engine room, Hyundai. The NTSB Chair, Jennifer Homendy, revealed during a U.S. Senate committee hearing that they are focusing on the electrical system, given that videos captured the ship's lights going out moments before the collision.

In addition, the NTSB is also looking at the bridge's design and whether it could have been built with better pier protection according to today's standards. The container ship, loaded with cargo and headed to Sri Lanka, experienced power issues just before the crash. This led to emergency responders recovering three victims' bodies while the remaining three were still missing. Recovery efforts have been ongoing, with crews working to extract sections of the fallen bridge from the Patapsco River.

According to Maryland Governor Wes Moore, preparations are in place to open a third temporary shipping channel by late April, which will significantly increase commercial traffic into and out of the port of Baltimore. Crews are also working to unload shipping containers from the Dali, which will be refloated once all pieces of the fallen bridge have been removed from its bow. So far, 34 of the 178 containers have been removed, allowing for some progress to be made in minimizing the impact of the incident on shipping operations.

Governor Moore is also calling for congressional support to fund the construction of a new bridge. He believes that federal lawmakers can come together, as they did in 2007 after the reconstruction of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minnesota, which collapsed into the Mississippi River. With bipartisan support and an invitation to visit the wreckage, Moore believes members of Congress can see the severity of the situation and take necessary actions to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The investigations are ongoing, and federal safety investigators remain at the scene in Baltimore. They have conducted numerous interviews with the ship's pilots and crew members, and chairperson Homendy testified during a hearing on her nomination to continue serving on the board.

She stated that the NTSB's preliminary report will likely be released by early next month. A preliminary timeline has already been established by investigators, pointing to possible mechanical issues with the Dali as the cause of the collision.

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