Cranes Arrive In Baltimore To Clear Wreckage From Bridge Disaster

( – Heavy-duty equipment has started arriving at the site of last week’s Baltimore bridge collapse. Two massive cranes will lift debris from the river bed, where piles of wreckage have blocked efforts to recover the bodies of victims. Clearing the collapsed span is also essential for Baltimore’s busy cargo port, which has been closed since the disaster.

Just before 1:30 am on March 26, the 95,000-ton container ship Dali hit one of the pillars of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. The impact caused a chain reaction of collapses that brought down most of the 1.6-mile bridge and dropped at least eight road workers, who had been repairing potholes on the span, into the Patapsco River. Two people were rescued alive from the water, and divers have recovered the bodies of two of the road repair crew from the wreckage, but the other four workers are missing and presumed dead. The bridge collapse also closed the channel to Baltimore Harbor, trapping around 40 ships inside the busy freight terminal.

The US Army Corps of Engineers and US Navy are handling the clearance of the channel, and they’re bringing in heavy equipment to do it. On March 28, a barge-mounted crane, Chesapeake 1000, arrived at the bridge. It’s the largest crane barge on the East Coast and can lift 1,000-ton loads. By March 30, it had been joined by six smaller floating cranes, and the first pieces of wreckage were being lifted out of the water.

The plan is to open a small channel so tugboats can get through, while at the same time stabilizing the most dangerous parts of the wreckage so divers can resume the search for the missing men. Divers will also need to cut up parts of the bridge. Some of the trusses weigh up to 4,000 tons, and even the Chesapeake 1000 can’t move them in one piece. Meanwhile, experts are trying to work out the economic consequences of one of the biggest US ports being closed.

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