2 bodies recovered in Baltimore bridge collapse

The bodies of two people have been recovered from the waters where the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on Tuesday in Baltimore, state officials announced Wednesday.

Divers continued the search in the Patapsco River in Baltimore for the missing people on Wednesday, when they found a red pickup truck around 10 a.m. submerged in about 25 feet of water, Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., superintendent of Maryland State Police, said Wednesday.

Two bodies were trapped in the truck and pulled out by divers, Butler said. They were later identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore and Dorlián Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk. Fuentes was from Mexico, and Cabrera was from Guatemala, he added.

They were among a group of construction workers filing potholes overnight Tuesday when a cargo ship smashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse around 1:30 a.m. Two individuals were rescued Tuesday, and four remain missing and are presumed dead.

The ship, named Dali, was on its way to Sri Lanka.

“At this point, based upon the conditions, we’re now moving from a recovery mode to a salvage operation,” Butler said during Wednesday’s press conference. “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.”

Based on sonar scans of the area around the wreckage, officials “firmly believe” the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete that collapsed during the incident, he added. The search stopped around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“Once that salvage effort takes place and that superstructure is removed, those same divers are going to go back out there and bring those people closure,” Butler said.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) noted this phase is “not a conclusion,” but a “continuation,” and said it will be taken just as seriously.

The Port of Baltimore is closed in the wake of the incident, and officials have not released a timeline for when it can reopen. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott reassured residents the channel will “reopen as quickly as possible” while noting it is important it is “done the right way.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reiterated there is no timeline, as the majority of the port is inside of the bridge. He expressed concerns about the local economic impact of the port closure, noting that 8,000 jobs are directly associated with its activities, while more than $100 million in cargo moves through the port daily.

President Biden pledged to rebuild the bridge and said he expects the federal government to foot the bill with the support of Congress.

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