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United States: FBI opens criminal investigation into Baltimore bridge collapse

The 2.6-km-long, four-lane Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River collapsed on March 26 after the 984-foot ship ‘Dali’ collided against it

PTI New York Published 15.04.24, 07:18 PM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into the deadly Baltimore bridge collapse incident that will also look into whether the ship, mostly manned by Indias, left the key US port “knowing the vessel had serious systems problems,” a media report said on Monday.

The 2.6-km-long, four-lane Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River collapsed on March 26 after the 984-foot ship ‘Dali’ collided against it. The crew onboard the Dali included 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan.


Six construction workers who were repairing potholes on the bridge plunged into the Patapsco River and died. Of the six victims killed, the bodies of three have been found.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the FBI has opened a criminal investigation "focusing on the massive container ship that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore last month — a probe that will look at least in part at whether the crew left the port knowing the vessel had serious systems problems.” The report said that federal agents appeared to board the ship on Monday morning to search.

“Less than an hour after the sun rose at 6:30 a.m., a succession of three boats pulled to the port side of the Dali," it said.

"About 6:50 a.m. Monday, people wearing yellow or orange life jackets entered the Dali through a lower door and climbed a ladder to the ship’s bow. About a half-hour later, nearly a dozen more people wearing dark clothing pulled up in a smaller boat and climbed aboard,” it said.

“The FBI is present aboard the cargo ship Dali conducting court-authorised law enforcement activity,” the report said, quoting a statement by the FBI.

US attorney for Maryland Erek Barron said in a statement in the Washington Post report that his office will not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about investigations.

“However, the public should know, whether it’s gun violence, civil rights abuse, financial fraud, or any other threat to public safety or property, we will seek accountability for anyone who may be responsible,” he said.

The Singapore-flagged DALI is owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and managed by Synergy Marine Group.

In the days following the accident, US authorities had begun interviewing personnel, including the Indian crew members, onboard Dali. Synergy Group had said in a statement that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) boarded the vessel on Wednesday and collected documents, voyage data recorder extracts, and other evidence as part of their investigation.

“The NTSB also began interviewing crew members. We will continue to cooperate with investigators throughout this process,” Synergy had said.

US President Joe Biden had said that the crew onboard Dali had alerted transportation personnel about losing control of the vessel, enabling authorities to close the Baltimore bridge to traffic before the devastating collision, “undoubtedly” saving lives.

"Personnel onboard the ship were able to alert the Maryland Department of Transportation that they had lost control of their vessel. As a result, local authorities were able to close the bridge to traffic before the bridge was struck, which undoubtedly saved lives,” Biden had said in remarks made in the White House on the bridge's collapse.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore had also told reporters that the cargo ship crew alerted authorities about a “power issue” before the vessel collided with the bridge. This mayday call enabled workers to stop more vehicular traffic from coming onto the bridge.

“We can confirm that the crew notified authorities of a power issue,” Moore said.

Moore was asked if the crew on the ship had alerted authorities about losing propulsion and being in trouble. “Yes”, Moore said when asked if the crew had lost power on the ship.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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