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Baltimore Bridge Span Demolished with Explosives, Clearing Path for Stranded Ship

518 Baltimore Bridge Span Demolished with Explosives, Clearing Path for Stranded Ship
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Image Credit: WIRED

In a dramatic operation on Monday, crews deployed a series of precisely placed explosives to dismantle the largest remaining section of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. With a resounding boom and a dramatic splash, the twisted steel trusses plunged into the river below, marking a significant milestone in the efforts to free the stranded Dali container ship.

The controlled demolition was a critical step towards dislodging the Dali, which had been immobilized amidst the wreckage since it lost power and collided with one of the bridge’s support columns on March 26. The collision claimed the lives of six construction workers and disrupted maritime traffic through Baltimore’s bustling port.

The detonation, executed flawlessly according to officials, generated plumes of black smoke and sent waves crashing back towards the ship as the longest trusses collapsed away from its bow. This strategic move is poised to facilitate the refloating of the Dali and restore vital traffic flow through the port, providing relief for thousands of workers and businesses impacted by the closure.

Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers likened the cleanup process to peeling back layers of an onion, emphasizing the meticulous approach required to ensure the safe removal of the remaining wreckage obstructing the ship’s path.

Following the successful demolition, attention now turns to assessing the condition of the Dali’s bow and addressing any potential impediments to its refloating. Officials anticipate completing this phase within the next few days before guiding the vessel to a nearby terminal for temporary repairs.

Colonel Estee Pinchasin, Baltimore District Commander for the Army Corps of Engineers, hailed the demolition as a significant milestone, expressing confidence that further explosives would not be necessary. Throughout the operation, safety remained paramount, with fire teams on standby to address any unforeseen hazards.

The crew of the Dali, comprising 20 individuals from India and one from Sri Lanka, remained on board throughout the detonation, diligently assisting investigators and maintaining the vessel. Despite enduring weeks of confinement since the disaster, there were no reported injuries or incidents during the operation.

As engineers meticulously orchestrated the demolition, precision cuts were employed to control the collapse of the steel trusses, ensuring a safe and efficient removal process. Hydraulic grabbers will now lift the broken sections onto barges, facilitating the cleanup effort.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI are conducting investigations into the bridge collapse, with a focus on the ship’s electrical system. The incident has drawn parallels to historic events, prompting reflections on Maryland’s resilience in the face of adversity.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native, likened the disaster to the iconic defense of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, emphasizing the collective response as a testament to Maryland’s strength. She commended the swift and coordinated efforts of various government agencies in addressing the crisis.

As the cleanup operation progresses, officials remain optimistic about reopening the port’s deep draft channel by the end of May, underscoring the resilience and determination of Baltimore’s community in overcoming adversity.

This story was originally featured on AP News

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