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Second channel opens around collapsed Baltimore bridge

Recovery teams on Tuesday opened a second channel in the channel to Baltimore Port that will permit smaller vessels to navigate in and out of the Port of Baltimore. However, most commercial shipping that was in the Port when the bridge was brought down on March 26th remains trapped. Similarly, there is no way that commercial shipping can reach the Port of Baltimore from outside.

The Unified Command (UC) announced that crews had cleared a south-western channel with a depth of 14ft, similar to the 11ft channel opened on the opposite (north-eastern) side of the wreckage on Monday.

The main channel is blocked and, from statements made on Tuesday about the complexity of the situation, looks likely to remain blocked for at least several weeks. The centre-span is not sitting on the surface of the seabed, but is a tangled wreck embedded in the soft mud. With zero visibility, cutting and removing looks not to be an option. A significant degree of heavy lifting might be required.

The two auxiliary channels now in operation will enable access for emergency vessels, tugs and barges. But major cargo ships would need a depth of at least 35ft, Maryland Governor Wes Moore told a news conference on Tuesday. And that means using the main channel.

Some terminal operations on the Atlantic side of the bridge, outside the affected area, have resumed.

“What we’re seeing in the water is that the wreckage has been completely collapsed. Some people use the term pancaked. But that’s making it very difficult to even determine where to cut, how to cut,” Colonel Estee Pinchasin of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the same news conference.

The bodies of four of the six victims remain trapped beneath the wreckage, officials said. Divers recovered two other bodies. President Joe Biden will visit the site on Friday, the White House said.

The Biden administration has helped secure equipment and initial emergency funding of $60m to begin recovery. The President has asked Congress to provide funds for the rebuilding of the bridge – possibly recoverable from the ship’s liability insurers.