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Ship Dali bridge collision photo

A view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

FBI Opens Criminal Probe Into Baltimore Bridge Collapse

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April 15, 2024
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WASHINGTON, April 15 (Reuters) – The FBI has opened a federal criminal investigation into the deadly collapse of a Baltimore bridge last month when a ship crashed into one of its supports, the bureau said on Monday.

FBI agents had boarded the cargo ship Dali to conduct court-authorized law enforcement activity regarding the crash, a spokesperson told Reuters.

There is no other public information available, and the FBI will have no further comment, the spokesperson said.

In the early morning of March 26, the massive container ship lost power and crashed into a support pylon, sending the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsing into the Patapsco River and killing six people who were working on the span at the time of the crash.

The investigation into the collapse will focus in part on whether the crew of the cargo vessel Dali left the port knowing the freighter had serious problems with its systems, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Safety investigators have recovered the ship’s “black box” recorder, which provides data on its position, speed, heading, radar, bridge audio and radio communications, as well as alarms.

The head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board separately told Congress last week that its investigators had interviewed key cargo ship personnel as part of its probe.

Work to clear the wreckage and restore traffic through the port’s shipping channel continues.

Replacing the bridge will likely take years, but authorities have opened two temporary channels to allow some shallow-draft vessels to move around the stricken container vessel. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said two weeks ago that it expected to open a new channel to the Port of Baltimore by the end of April.

When the crash occurred, the Dali was leaving Baltimore en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a crew of 21, plus two pilots on board to guide it out of the port.

The same ship was involved in an incident in the port of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2016, when it hit a quay as it tried to exit a North Sea container terminal.

An inspection in June 2023 carried out in San Antonio, Chile, found the vessel had propulsion and auxiliary machinery deficiencies, according to data on the public Equasis website, which provides information on ships.

According to Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority, the vessel passed foreign-port inspections last June and September.

The registered owner of the Singapore-flagged ship is Grace Ocean Pte Ltd, LSEG data shows. Synergy Marine Group managed the ship, and Maersk chartered the vessel.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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