Baltimore bridge collapse: Crews prepare for controlled demolition

NEW DELHI: After weeks of preparation, crews have scheduled a controlled demolition for Sunday to dismantle the largest remaining section of the collapsed Francis Scott key bridge in Maryland. The bridge crashed down under the force of a massive container ship on March 26.
The steel span came crashing down after the Dali lost power and collided with one of the bridge’s support columns shortly after leaving Baltimore.Since then, the vessel has remained trapped amidst the debris, leading to the closure of Baltimore’s bustling port for most maritime traffic.
The collapse tragically claimed the lives of six members of a roadwork crew, who plunged to their deaths. The recovery of the last body from the underwater wreckage occurred earlier this week. All the victims were Latino immigrants who had sought job opportunities in the US. They were diligently filling potholes during an overnight shift when the bridge met its destruction.
The planned controlled demolition aims to facilitate the refloating of the Dali, enabling its safe return to the Port of Baltimore. Once the ship is extracted, maritime traffic can gradually resume, offering much-needed relief to thousands of longshoremen, truckers, and small business owners whose livelihoods have been affected by the prolonged closure.
The 21-member crew of the Dali will remain sheltered aboard the ship during the detonation of the explosives.
William Marks, a spokesperson for the crew, stated in an email that they would shelter “in a designated safe place” during the demolition. He emphasised, “All precautions are being taken to ensure everyone’s safety.”
In a videographic released this week, authorities explained that engineers are employing precision cuts to manage the breakdown of the trusses. They highlighted that this method ensures “surgical precision” and is one of the safest and most efficient ways to dismantle steel under significant tension. According to the videographic, the steel structure will be “thrust away from the Dali” when the explosives cause it to tumble into the water.
Once demolished, hydraulic grabbers will hoist the resulting sections of steel onto barges.
“It’s important to note that this controlled demolition is not like what you would see in a movie,” the video explains, emphasizing that from a distance, it will resemble fireworks or loud thunder and emit puffs of smoke.
Officials had previously aimed to remove the Dali by May 10 and reopen the port’s 50-foot (15.2-meter) main channel by the end of May.
The crew members of the Dali haven’t been permitted to depart the grounded vessel since the disaster. Officials said that they’ve been occupied with maintaining the ship and aiding investigators. Among the crew, 20 are from India and one is from Sri Lanka.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI are conducting investigations into the bridge collapse.
The Danish shipping giant Maersk chartered the Dali for a scheduled journey from Baltimore to Sri Lanka, but the vessel’s journey was abruptly halted. The crew issued a distress call, reporting a loss of power and inability to control the steering system. Shortly after, the ship collided with the bridge.
Officials have indicated that the safety board investigation will center on the ship’s electrical system.
(With inputs from agencies)


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