Sailors head home months after Baltimore bridge crash

Eight crew members of the ship that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore are finally home after three months on the vessel.

On Monday, the Dali left the city's port, with only four of the original crew of 21 on board.

The 948ft (289m) Dali was aided by four tugboats on Monday morning as it travelled to Norfolk in Virginia. The trip is expected to take 16-20 hours.

Six repair workers were killed on the bridge when the ship crashed on 26 March. Around 50,000 tonnes of wreckage had to be cleared and the Dali relocated to port before the Port of Baltimore shipping channel could fully reopen in June.

The original crew, all but one of whom are Indians, had been stuck on the ship as it languished in the channel.

They were unable to leave because they were considered witnesses and did not have valid visas or shore passes to enter the US.

Darrel Wilson, a spokesman for the ship's management company, Synergy Marine, told the BBC that eight crew members have already returned home and with two more were due to leave the US soon.

"Four original crew members are helping with the movement of the vessel to Norfolk," Mr Wilson said. "Then they will return to Baltimore."

Last week, Synergy Marine said that the remaining crew members would remain in remain "to assist with the investigation".

News of the sailors' departures comes days after Baltimore dropped a petition that would have prevented anyone from leaving before they were questioned.

A deal between the city, the ship's owner and its management company paved the way for some of the men to leave.

However, they will have to be available for depositions even after they leave the US.

The crew had already been interviewed by the justice department. Investigators later said there was no reason to keep them in the US.

The National Transportation Safety Board said last month that the Dali lost power several times before it hit the bridge.

The US Coast Guard and the FBI are investigating the crash.

Officials expect the bridge will be rebuilt by 2028 at a cost of around $1.9bn (£1.5bn). The city has resisted attempts by the Dali's owner to cap damages at $43m (£33.9m).