Updated Mar 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Construction workers presumed dead after Baltimore bridge collapse

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard patrol near the cargo ship Dali as it sits in the water after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Coast Guard ended its active search for six missing Baltimore construction workers now believed to be dead after the city's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning.

The big picture: Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) declared a state of emergency after a cargo ship struck the bridge earlier that morning, a key piece of infrastructure in a vital port that spans the Patapsco River.

  • Guatemala's government in a Tuesday night statement said two of those missing were Guatemalan. They were among eight workers repairing asphalt on the bridge at the time of the collapse, it said. The other two workers were rescued, per the statement.
  • The Washington Consulate of Mexico said Mexican citizens were missing, though it didn't specify in its statement how many, and a Honduras government official told media that Honduran citizen Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval had yet to be accounted for. The Guatemalan government said it's believed El Salvador nationals were among those missing.

Zoom in: Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said during a news briefing Tuesday night that due to the temperature of the water and the amount of time passed since the collapse, "we do not believe that we are going to find any of these individuals still alive."

  • Active search and rescue operations would end at 7:30pm local time, he said.
  • Authorities are transitioning to a recovery effort to locate the bodies.

Where it stands: "At this point, we do not know where they are," Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., secretary of Maryland State Police, said at the briefing. "But we intend to give it our best effort to help these families find closure."

  • He added that conditions in the water have become dangerous for first responders and divers, though surface ships will remain overnight.
  • Divers were due to get back in the water at 6am Wednesday and "address the issues in a much safer manner," Butler said.

What they're saying: Moore said at a Tuesday night news conference that the end of active search and rescue operations was a "really heartbreaking conclusion to a challenging day."

  • He said officials had "put every single asset possible — air, land and sea" to find the missing workers.
  • "Even though we're moving on now to a recovery mission, we're still fully committed to making sure that we're going to use every single asset to now bring a sense of closure to the families," he added.
A screenshot of a tweet by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, saying: "As operations at the Key Bridge shift from search-and-rescue to recovery, our hearts go out to the families grieving loved ones tonight. As President Biden said today, our administration will do whatever it takes, at every step, to help the people of Baltimore heal and rebuild."
Photo: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg/X

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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