Baltimore Bridge Collapse: Cellphones of Indian Crew On Board Dali Seized as Part of FBI Probe

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New York, United States of America (USA)

Francis Scott Key Bridge after a container ship collided with the bridge. (Image/AP)

The 2.6-km-long, four-lane Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River came crashing down on March 26 after the 984-foot ship ‘Dali’ collided against it

The FBI has seized the cellphones of the mostly Indian crew on board a crippled cargo ship in Baltimore as part of the investigation into the deadly bridge accident in the US city, a non-profit organisation in touch with the personnel said.

The 2.6-km-long, four-lane Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River came crashing down on March 26 after the 984-foot ship ‘Dali’ collided against it. The crew on board Dali included 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan. The crew has been on the ship since the accident and has been cooperating with the investigation.

Executive Director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre The Rev. Joshua Messick told PTI that he is working with all of the relevant organisations to make sure the crew has what they need and that their rights are being upheld. “They are well cared for with the sole exception that their cellphones were seized as part of the FBI’s investigation and have not been returned,” he said.

Messick said he is in “contact with the crew to purchase some SIM cards for them and to plan trips ashore when they are able to have shore leave”. The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre is a non-profit organisation serving seafarers that call on the Port of Baltimore from all over the world. The mission of the organisation is to “facilitate the well-being of crew members by offering transportation ashore,” according to information on its website.

Last month, US authorities opened a criminal investigation into the Baltimore bridge collapse incident that killed six construction crew workers, who were repairing potholes on the bridge when the collision occurred.

The Washington Post had said that the FBI opened the criminal investigation ”focusing on the massive container ship that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore last month — a probe that will look at least in part at whether the crew left the port knowing the vessel had serious systems problems”.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command is scheduled to use precision cuts made with small charges to remove a large section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge wreckage from on top of the Dali.

For safety reasons, the controlled demolition to remove the bridge section resting on the deck of the Dali has tentatively been scheduled for Monday. Due to weather conditions producing lightning within 10 miles of the M/V Dali, remaining daylight, and rising tide, Unified Command has moved the demolition to Monday.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command said in a statement that the safest and swiftest method to remove the bridge piece from on top of the Dali is by “precision cuts made with small charges. This is an industry-standard tool in controlled demolition that will break the span into smaller pieces, which will allow the work of refloating the vessel and removing it from the federal channel”.

Authorities said the small charges, a standard controlled demolition tool, will split the large section of truss at specific locations to create multiple, smaller sections, which allows salvors to use cranes and barges already on scene to remove these sections of the bridge and ultimately remove the Dali from the channel.

“We remain focused on restoring the Marine Transportation System, while ensuring the protection of the public and the environment,” said Capt David O’Connell, Key Bridge Response Federal On-Scene Coordinator. “cuts, we reduce risks to our personnel and can safely and efficiently continue clearing the channel for the Port of Baltimore,” he said.

The Singapore-flagged Dali is owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and managed by Synergy Marine Group. In the days following the accident, US authorities had begun interviewing personnel, including the Indian crew members, on board Dali.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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