Baltimore bridge blown up in controlled demolition

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Baltimore bridge blown up in controlled demolition

Part of a collapsed bridge in Baltimore has been deliberately destroyed, clearing the way for the eventual full return of shipping through one of the busiest sea routes in the US.

A ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge on 26 March, causing it to collapse and killing six construction workers.

Monday’s demolition broke apart chunks of the collapsed bridge.

The operation was delayed over the weekend due to bad weather.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after it was hit by a cargo ship, the Dali, which lost power and veered off course.

The collision sent around 4,000 tonnes of debris into the Patapsco River.

The 948ft (289m) ship has remained at the scene since the accident and is covered in scrap metal from the bridge. A total of 21 crew members, most of them Indian, are still on board the Dali, maintaining the vessel. Crew members sheltered aboard the ship while Monday’s controlled explosion took place.

Authorities said the demolition went according to plan. It took place after the body of the sixth and last victim of the incident was recovered last week.

A loud explosion was heard shortly after 17:00 Eastern time (21:00 GMT), and pieces of the bridge fell into the water.

Officials said they used the controlled detonation to make precision cuts, hoping to free the Dali, which will return to the Port of Baltimore.

The port, which handles a variety of goods and is the busiest in the country for car shipments, was closed after the collapse, although some shipping has resumed through temporary channels. The US Army Corps of Engineers said it aims to restore full capacity by the end of May.

At a news conference earlier Monday, officials said they hoped to move the ship within two days.

“After we do the precision cutting, we will then go back and resurvey the channel as well as survey around the Dali to make sure there are no obstructions that come from that precision cutting that would interfere with traffic,” said US Coast Guard Rear Adm Shannon Gilreath. “Then we will reopen the limited-access channel to traffic at that particular time.”

Authorities in the state of Maryland estimate it will cost up to $1.9bn (£1.5bn) and take more than four years to rebuild the bridge.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told the BBC last week the closure of the channel has “certainly” impacted supply chains.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the collapse.

The city of Baltimore has sued the ship’s owners, Grace Ocean Private Limited, and its manager, Synergy Marine Private Limited, alleging gross negligence and recklessness. The companies have asked a court to limit their liability for the incident.

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