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Two bodies of missing workers found in submerged truck after Baltimore Key Bridge collapse

Two bodies have now been recovered from the Patapsco river following the deadly collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore.

Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk – both construction workers – were found inside a submerged truck on Wednesday morning, more than 24 hours into the search.

Four other victims – two of them identified as Miguel Luna and Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval – are also presumed dead after all six plunged into the river when the Dali ship struck the bridge.

The tragic discovery of the victims’ bodies was announced at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, held by personnel from the US Coast Guard, Maryland Department of Transportation and state Governor Wes Moore.

Rescue operations had been called off on Tuesday night when Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said there was no hope of finding the men, who were working on the bridge at the time of the collision, alive due to the frigid water and the length of time since the accident.

Colonel Roland L Butler, superintendent of the Maryland Department of State Police, said that operations had been reclassified from search and recovery to “salvage recovery efforts”.

“The Maryland State Police along with the water recovery teams supported by state, local and federal partners made a tragic finding shortly before 10am,” he said.

Baltimore bridge collapse victims: Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, Dorlian Cabrera and Miguel Luna (via Facebook)
Baltimore bridge collapse victims: Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, Dorlian Cabrera and Miguel Luna (via Facebook)

“Divers located a red pickup truck submerged and approximately 25 feet of water in the area of the middle span of the bridge. Divers recovered two victims of this tragedy trapped within the vehicle.”

The families of the two men have been informed.

One of the victims was identified by a drivers license in his pocket, and the other by a fingerprint, Sup. Butler said.

He continued: “Knowing the gravity of this, we provided [the families] with a list of resources that they can refer to, and refer their friends and family to at this point.

“Based upon the conditions we’re now moving from a recovery mode to a salvage operation because of the superstructure surrounding the vehicle, what we believe are the vehicles and the amount of concrete and debris, divers are no longer able able to safely navigate or operate.

The exact cause of the crash in the early hours of Tuesday is unknown (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
The exact cause of the crash in the early hours of Tuesday is unknown (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“The areas around this wreckage, and based on sonar scans, we firmly believe that the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete that we tragically saw come down.”

Fou other construction workers are also presumed dead following the devastasting collapse. The six victims – from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – were carrying out repair work on the road on the bridge when the huge cargo ship – the Dali – crashed into it on Tuesday morning.

Two survivors were previously pulled from the river. One was transported to a trauma unit and is in a serious condition, while the other had not reportedly suffered any injuries.

Sonar technology has detected that multiple vehicles were also thrown off the bridge and submerged in the water.

Baltimore city mayor Brandon Scott previously described the incident as an ‘unthinkable tragedy’ (REUTERS)
Baltimore city mayor Brandon Scott previously described the incident as an ‘unthinkable tragedy’ (REUTERS)

The exact cause of the crash in the early hours of Tuesday, which has been described by authorities as a “ developing mass casualty incident,” is still unknown.

At around 1.30am ET local time, the Singapore-flagged vessel Dali rammed into a column on the Francis Scott Key Bridge, leading multiple parts of the 1.6 mile-long bridge to tumble into the water. It was just 30 minutes into its 27-day journey to Sri Lanka.

The container ship is thought to have “lost propulsion” as it left Baltimore port, with the crew alerting Maryland officials they had lost control of the almost 300-metre-long vessel and that a collision was possible, ABC News reported. Governor Moore previously noted that this warning call saved lives.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Governor Moore said: “The collapse of the Key bridge is not just a Maryland crisis. The collapse of the Key bridge is a global crisis. The national economy and the global economy depends on the Port of Baltimore.”

Baltimore city mayor Brandon Scott previously described the incident as an “unthinkable tragedy.”

“We have to be thinking about the families and people impacted, folks who we have to try to find,” Mr Scott said.

“This is what our focus should be on right now, we’re going to continue to work in partnership with every part of government to do everything we can to get us through the other side of this tragedy.”