Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Breaking News: Indian Crew’s Mayday Call Averts Disaster on Baltimore Bridge

HomeTop NewsBreaking News: Indian Crew's Mayday Call Averts Disaster on Baltimore Bridge

In a harrowing incident that unfolded on the waters of the Patapsco River in Baltimore on Tuesday, a Singapore-flagged cargo ship lost power and slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing a portion of the structure to collapse into the river below. While the accident resulted in tragic loss of life, the swift action of the all-Indian crew aboard the ship “Dali” is being credited with preventing an even greater disaster.

As the massive vessel began drifting powerless toward the bridge spanning the Patapsco, the Dali’s crew quickly realized they had lost steering control. Without hesitation, they broadcast a mayday distress call, alerting authorities that the 485-foot ship was on a collision course with the bridge.

“After the Indian crew’s mayday signal, a dispatcher issued a warning over the radio, stating that a huge cargo ship had lost its steering capabilities and was moving toward the Francis Scott Key Bridge,” recounted officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation.

That urgent warning from the Dali’s crew gave transportation authorities and police mere seconds to spring into action and prevent vehicles from entering the bridge as the runaway ship bore down on it. Officers were able to stop automobile traffic on the span within about 90 seconds of receiving the alert.

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“I have to say I’m thankful for the folks who, once the warning came up and once notification came up that there was a mayday, was literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge,” praised Maryland Governor Wes Moore at a press conference. “These people (the Indian ship crew) are heroes. They saved lives last night.”

The Dali’s devastating impact sheered off a portion of the bridge’s span, sending a construction crew working on the aging structure plunging into the river below. While search and rescue teams were able to pull two workers from the water alive, the remaining six were listed as presumed dead after an intensive overnight search operation was ultimately suspended Wednesday morning.

“It’s a terrible, terrible accident,” lamented President Joe Biden as he commented on the tragedy. “But the staff on board actually notified they were going to lose control of the ship, which undoubtedly helped save a lot of lives because they got the warning out.”

Distressing images captured in the aftermath showed the sheared-off bridge deck lying twisted in the shallow river, with the Dali’s bulbous bow protruding from the murky waters underneath the shattered span. Maryland officials immediately launched an investigation seeking to determine what caused the ship’s total power failure as it transited the key shipping channel.

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While uncertainty still shrouds the circumstances behind the harrowing maritime incident, the decisive actions of the Dali’s Indian crew members in the heat of the crisis are being universally lauded for preventing the bridge collapse from becoming an even more catastrophic event.

“The Indian crew on the ship probably saved lives and limited the disaster’s impact because they were the ones there to take action when things went wrong,” praised one commenter on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Hats off to their quick thinking and bravery in a tough situation!”

According to the Synergy Marine Group which manages the Dali, all of the crew remained safe after the accident. The company confirmed that two local maritime pilots were also aboard the ship to assist with navigation when the incident occurred.

The six construction workers who remain missing and are presumed deceased after the horrific bridge strike hailed from Latin American nations including Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador, authorities said.

As a complex rescue and recovery operation continues in Baltimore, investigators are working to determine precisely what caused the Dali’s technical failure as it neared the aging Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was already undergoing an extensive rehabilitation project when the ship struck.

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Built in 1977, the truss bridge spanning the Patapsco carried over 22,000 vehicles per day along the key Interstate 695 beltway encircling Baltimore before its closure. While the structure was clearly showing its age, having a large ship careen into a major transportation link is virtually unprecedented in modern maritime history.

“This is an extremely unusual, if not unique, situation where a vessel struck a bridge of this kind,” said Timothy Hayfield, director of navigation safety for the American Waterway Operators association.

The last time a commercial vessel collided with a bridge in the region was in 2008, but that incident only caused minor structural damage on the span. For a bridge to sustain a total failure from a ship strike is “extraordinarily rare,” added Hayfield.

While the circumstances remain under scrutiny, it is clear that Baltimore narrowly averted an even worse calamity thanks to the judicious actions of the Dali’s Indian maritime crew. As Governor Moore succinctly put it, “They saved lives.”

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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