Baltimore bridge collapse: FBI opens criminal probe, searches the crippled ship

The closed channel is set to reopen in May

Baltimore bridge collapse fbi A drone view of the Dali cargo vessel, which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse, in Baltimore | Reuters

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened a criminal investigation into the tragic Baltimore bridge collapse incident, that claimed the lives of six construction workers. Reportedly, the FBI will also look into the aspect of whether, the ship--Dali-- mostly manned by Indians, left the US port knowing the vessel had serious system issues. 

The incident happened on March 26, when a 984-foot Dali vessel collided with Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River. The power failure was cited as the reason behind the ship losing control. 

The crew onboard the ship included 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan. 

During the search and rescue efforts, the bodies of only three victims were found.

A report by The Washington Post said that the FBI has opened a criminal probe "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 investigating teams conducted a search on Dali on Monday as well, said the report. 

"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.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board has been investigating why the ship lost power and crashed into the 47-year-old bridge. The probe has been focused on engine room equipment. 

The authorities had said that the ship had sent a mayday signal when it was approaching the bridge, which paved the way for the officials to stop cars driving onto the bridge.

The collapse led to the closure of the Port of Baltimore, one of the busiest in the US and a key hub for the transport of vehicles. Two alternative channels have been opened in order to continue the operations.

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

As part of the investigation, US authorities have been interviewing the crew members onboard. Synergy Group had said in a statement that NTSB boarded the vessel 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.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has said it plans to reopen the channel affected by the accident by the end of May.

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