Saturday, April 20, 2024

AMLO confirms 1 Mexican rescued, 2 missing after Baltimore bridge collapse

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters that three Mexican workers were on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, when it collapsed after a cargo ship struck a support column on Tuesday.

One of the three was rescued, but two are still missing, he said.

Reporters with raised hands asking Mexican President Lopez Obrador questions
President Lopez Obrador declined to share the names of the victims, saying that their families in Mexico were highly sought after by the media. (Presidencia)

“The report we have is that there are three Mexicans, one was rescued and came out alive— injured, but safe,” López Obrador said during his Wednesday morning press conference, adding that consular assistance is being provided to the relatives. At least eight people went into the water. Two were rescued, but the other six are missing and presumed dead. 

The Mexicans were part of a construction crew filling potholes on the bridge. President López Obrador said the families of the victims are being highly sought after by the media and refrained from giving further details about their relatives.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the Mexican rescued alive is from Michoacán. One of the missing men is also from the state of Michoacán, and the other is from the state of Veracruz, it added.

Guatemalan and Honduran diplomats have confirmed that some of the missing workers on the crew are their nationals.

On Tuesday evening, Maryland State Police announced that the search and rescue mission was transitioning to one of search and recovery. Maryland Governor Wes Moore said Wednesday morning that rescue divers faced dangerous conditions.

“They are down there in darkness where they can literally see about a foot in front of them. They are trying to navigate mangled metal, and they’re also in a place [where] it is now presumed that people have lost their lives,” Moore said.

“operations have shifted from a search and rescue operation towards recovery efforts,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a press conference.

According to the Associated Press, the ship, the Dali, struck the bridge at 1:30 a.m., moments after the vessel’s crew issued a mayday call warning that it had lost power and steering capability. Police officers who were warned that the ship was headed toward the bridge had only about 90 seconds to stop traffic on the interstate highway before the bridge collapsed.

Reportedly, one officer parked sideways across the lanes and planned to drive onto the bridge to alert a construction crew once another officer arrived. However, he did not get the chance as the drifting ship barreled into the bridge.

The accident destroyed a major transportation link in Baltimore, leading to the complete closure of river traffic. This will impact not only the 30,000 daily commuters who use the bridge but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to experience shipping delays.

The Port of Baltimore is a major entry point on the East Coast for vehicles from Germany, Mexico, Japan and the United Kingdom, as well as for coal and farm equipment. 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said it is too soon to give a time frame for clearing the channel and resuming normal activities.

“We need the ships to enter and those who were [in the port] to be able to leave,” he stressed.

The vessel, owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd., a Singapore-based shipping company, was en route from Baltimore to Sri Lanka. Maersk, a Danish shipping giant, had chartered the ship.

With reports from The Associated Press and El Economista

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