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Workers at Baltimore bridge collapse continue careful work of removing twisted metal and concrete

BALTIMORE — While crews continued the complex and careful process of removing the steel and concrete from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, some individuals near the site took the opportunity on Easter Sunday to reflect on the

BALTIMORE — As crews continued the complex and precise task of removing the metal and concrete from the fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, some near the site took time on Easter Sunday to think about the six workers presumed to have fallen to their deaths.

As cranes moved into position and workers measured and cut the metal to prepare to lift sections of twisted steel, Rev. Ako Walker held a Mass in Spanish at Sacred Heart of Jesus, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) up the Patapsco River from the collapse.

“Yes we can rebuild a bridge, but we have to look at the way in which migrant workers are treated and how best we can improve their situation as they come to the United States of America,” Walker said of the men who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and were patching potholes.

The bridge collapsed early Tuesday as the crew of the cargo ship Dali lost power and control. They called in a mayday, which allowed just enough time for police to stop vehicles from getting on the bridge, but not enough time to get a crew of eight workers off the structure.

Two workers survived, two bodies were found in a submerged pickup and four more men are presumed dead. Weather conditions and the tangled debris underwater have made it too dangerous for divers to search for their bodies.

Each part of the bridge removed from the water will be lifted onto a barge and floated downstream to the Tradepoint Atlantic logistics center, where it will be inspected, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Everything the salvage crews do affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

It can also alter the course of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, which Moore said is important to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“We need to have answers on what happened. We need to know who should be accountable for this. And we need to make sure we’re holding them accountable,” Moore said Sunday on CNN.

The crew of the Dali, which is as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall, remains onboard the ship. The vessel is tangled in 3,000 to 4,000 tons of debris. Most of its containers remain intact, but a few were torn open or knocked away by the falling debris.

The Dali is managed by Synergy Marine Group and owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. Danish shipping giant Maersk charted Dali, which was on its way out of port when it hit the bridge’s support column.

Along with clearing the shipping channel to reopen the port, officials are trying to figure out how to rebuild the major bridge, which was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore and was a vital link to the city’s centuries of maritime culture.

It took five years to build the original bridge. President Joe Biden’s administration has promised to pay the full cost to rebuild and state and federal transportation officials said they will work as quickly as possible.

But we can't determine the exact duration of building the new bridge right now because engineers have not been able to assess the condition of the ramps and smaller bridges leading to the collapsed structure in order to understand everything that needs to be done.

Congress is expected to consider assistance packages to aid individuals who lose jobs or businesses due to the extended closure of the Port of Baltimore. The port handles more cars and farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

“This is important for people in rural North Carolina, Kansas, and Iowa. It is also significant for the global economy. And it should not be a topic affiliated with any political party. We are discussing a tragedy for an American city,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott expressed to CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

On Monday, the Small Business Administration will establish a center in Dundalk, Maryland, to assist small businesses in obtaining loans to help them cope with losses caused by the disruption of the bridge collapse.

The workers were not members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish, which was filled with worshipers during mass on Sunday. However, its pastor, Walker, reached out to the families because, as he explained, the Latino community in Baltimore is large and closely connected.

He stated that they were hardworking men not only supporting their families in the U.S., but also assisting relatives in their home countries.

Walker hopes that their experiences will inspire people to support migrant workers who are striving to enhance their lives and develop their communities.

“Even in these very difficult situations, we need to be supportive of one another. Our lives should serve as small bridges of mercy, hope, unity, and community building,” Walker remarked.

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