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Baltimore bridge collapse: Details emerge about 6 presumed dead as harrowing audio is released

A search for the six construction workers who are presumed dead following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore resumed Wednesday morning as details are emerging about their identities and the families they leave behind.

One of the missing Brawner Builders employees has been identified by Telemundo Washington D.C. as 49-year-old Miguel Luna of El Salvador, whose relatives say has six children. Two Guatemalans aged 26 and 35 are also unaccounted for, according to the country’s foreign ministry, and a colleague has told The Associated Press that he was informed the six were sitting in their trucks during a break at the time of the disaster.

“I spent a good part of yesterday with the families, praying with them, praying for them and praying for their peace. And I told them that we are going to put every effort — air, land and sea — for a search and rescue mission yesterday which we did, but now we have moved onto a recovery mission,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told ‘Fox & Friends’ this morning. “We are going to spend every effort to make sure that we can bring them a sense of closure in this horrific incident.

“These divers are in the water right now as we speak. In pitch dark, where they can literally see a foot or two in front of them,” Moore added. “In cold water temperatures with heavy tides… and so the debt of gratitude our whole state has to these divers and to these first responders, it’s boundless.”

Baltimore bridge collapse response

Recovery efforts resumed Wednesday for the construction workers who are presumed dead after the cargo ship hit a pillar of the bridge, causing the structure to collapse. (AP/Matt Rourke)

Also among the missing are people from Honduras and Mexico, diplomats say. The Honduran man was identified as Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, The Associated Press reports.

“They only tell us that we have to wait, that for now they can’t give us any information,” Luna’s wife María del Carmen Castellón told Telemundo Washington D.C.  “[We feel] devastated, devastated because our hearts are broken because we don’t know if they will have rescued them yet. We are just waiting for the news.”

Operators of the Dali cargo ship had issued a mayday call that the vessel had lost power moments before the crash, but the ship still headed toward the span at “a very, very rapid speed,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Tuesday.

The 985-foot-long vessel struck one of the 1.6-mile-long bridge’s supports, causing the span to break and fall into the water within seconds.

An emergency responder could be heard on dispatch audio mentioning that construction workers had been operating on the bridge during the collapse, and an “unknown amount of those workers [were] in the water.” That prompted a call for a dive team.

In Maryland Transportation Authority Police dispatch audio captured right before the collapse, an officer could be heard saying “I need one of you guys on the south side, one of you guys on the north side, hold all traffic on the Key Bridge. There’s a ship approaching that just lost their steering so until we get that under control, we’ve got to stop all traffic.”

Baltimore bridge collapse aftermath

A container ship rests against the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge as night falls on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Sparrows Point, Maryland. (AP/Matt Rourke)

“If we can stop traffic, just make sure no one is on the bridge right now. There is a crew out there, you might want to notify whoever the foreman is, see if we can get them off the bridge temporarily,” he adds.

“10-4, once the other unit gets here I’ll ride up on the bridge. I have all inner loop traffic stopped at this time” an officer responds.

But less than a minute later, an officer is heard saying in the dispatch audio that “The whole bridge just fell down! Start whoever, everybody — the whole bridge just collapsed!”

“Do if we know all traffic was stopped?” one of the officers asks.

“I can’t get to the other side sir, the bridge is down,” another replies.

The bridge collapsed approximately two to three minutes after the initial call to stop traffic.

“They kept cars from coming on the bridge. Had these police officers and these law enforcement officers not done that, what was a catastrophic incident that we saw, would have been even more catastrophic,” Moore told Fox News.

The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Two Guatemalans, 26 and 35 years old, originally from San Luis, Petén and Camotán, Chiquimula, respectively; are missing after the accident that occurred early this Tuesday, March 26, when a cargo ship lost control on the Patapsco River, colliding with the Francis Scott Key Bridge.”

“The Guatemalans were part of a total of eight workers who were repairing the asphalt on the bridge at the time of the accident,” it added. “Two men were rescued, but one of them is in critical condition.”

Baltimore bridge collapsed in the background as emergency vehicles are seen in the foreground

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a major span over the Patapsco River in Baltimore, collapsed after it was struck by a large cargo ship on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, prompting a massive emergency response for multiple people in the water.  (Jasper Colt-USA Today)

The ministry also said it has made contact with the brothers of the two missing.

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