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The Latest | Ship that collapsed Baltimore bridge was carrying hazardous materials, officials say

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The Latest on the ship crash that collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore (all times local):

The cargo ship that caused the Baltimore bridge collapse was carrying hazardous materials, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said there are 56 containers aboard containing hazardous materials, including corrosives, flammables and lithium ion batteries. She said some containers were breached and a sheen was identified in the water that will be dealt with by authorities. She said the voyage data recorder has been recovered.

Homendy said the investigation could take 12 to 24 months but that the NTSB will not hesitate to issue urgent safety recommendations during that time. She said a preliminary report should be released in two to four weeks.

“It’s a massive undertaking for an investigation,” Homendy said. “It’s a very tragic event.”

Currently:

— Cargo ship underwent engine maintenance before it crashed into the Baltimore bridge

— What we know about the Baltimore bridge collapse

— Central American and Mexican families mourn the missing

— What’s it like to survive a bridge collapse? Past survivors tell

— Ships carrying cars and heavy equipment must find a new harbor

— A list of major US bridge collapses caused by ships and barges

— Live Updates at APNews.com

— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com

More of the latest:

AUTHORITIES IDENTIFY THE TWO BODIES RECOVERED AT SITE OF BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Authorities have released the identities of the two people recovered from the water Wednesday morning at the site of the Baltimore bridge collapse.

Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Roland L. Butler said 35-year-old Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes and 26-year-old Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera were recovered from a red pickup truck submerged in about 25 feet (7.62 meters) of water near the bridge’s middle span.

Jesus Campos, who has worked on the bridge for Brawner Builders and knows members of the construction crew who died, said he was told they were on a break and some were sitting in their trucks to warm up when the bridge collapsed.

Butler said it was no longer safe for divers to continue operations in the area.

“We have exhausted all search efforts in the areas around this wreckage, and based on sonar scans, we firmly believe that the vehicles are encased in the superstructure and concrete,” Butler said.

SHIP WAS UNDERGOING ENGINE MAINTENANCE BEFORE IT CRASHED INTO BRIDGE, COAST GUARD SAYS

The ship that crashed into a bridge in Baltimore was undergoing “routine engine maintenance” in the port beforehand, the Coast Guard said.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said at a news conference on Wednesday that authorities had been informed that the ship was going to undergo routine engine maintenance before it lost power. But he said authorities were not informed of any problems.

TWO BODIES HAVE BEEN RECOVERED AT SITE OF BRIDGE COLLAPSE, AUTHORITES SAY

The bodies of two people have been recovered from the site of the Baltimore bridge that collapsed into a river early Tuesday when a ship crashed into it, said Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., superintendent for Maryland State Police.

Butler said Wednesday that a 35-year-old and a 26-year-old were recovered from a red pickup truck in the Patapsco River near the mid-span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge.

The six construction workers who were missing and presumed dead were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, Butler said.

Gov. Wes Moore told the families of the victims in Spanish, “Estamos contigo, ahora y siempre” which means, “We are with you, now and always.”

MARYLAND GOVERNOR TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT DAMAGE IN BALTIMORE

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is taking a closer look at the aftermath of the bridge collapse in Baltimore.

Moore boarded a Coast Guard ship with federal and local officials Wednesday to better understand the path the ship that caused the collapse took and how the crash happened, the governor’s office said. His office said his goal was to support the Coast Guard and other federal partners, thank first responders, and learn more about what happened.

BROTHER DESCRIBES MISSING CONSTRUCTION WORKER AS ‘ALWAYS HAPPY’

One of the construction workers presumed dead in Baltimore was a 38-year-old father of two who dreamed of someday returning to his native Honduras, his brother says.

Carlos Suazo says his brother, Maynor Suazo, had been in the United States for 18 years but “always dreamed of, in his old age, retiring peacefully in Honduras.” He describes him as the beloved youngest sibling among four girls and four boys.

“He was someone who was always happy, was always thinking about the future. He was a visionary,” Carlos Suazo says.

He last spoke to his brother Sunday, when they had lunch to discuss planning for a family birthday party.

He says the family hasn’t lost hope his brother will be found alive.

BUTTIGIEG URGES BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR BALTIMORE FUNDING

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday at a White House news briefing that it’s too soon to say if regulations would be waived to rebuild the bridge and reopen the port.

But he said President Joe Biden has said the federal government should “tear down any barriers, bureaucratic as well as financial” that could affect the timeline of any rebuild.

Buttigieg also had a message for Republicans in Congress who might oppose having the federal government pay for the effort. Infrastructure should be a bipartisan issue, he said.

“Today this is happening in Baltimore, tomorrow it could be their districts,” he said. “We really need to stand together, red blue and purple, to get these things done.”

BUTTIGIEG OFFERS NO TIMELINE FOR BRIDGE REPLACEMENT, PORT REOPENING

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says it’s too soon to say how long it will take to reopen the Port of Baltimore or replace the destroyed bridge.

Buttigieg noted at a White House news briefing Wednesday that the bridge took five years to construct.

“That does not necessarily mean it will take five years to replace,” he said.

Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Gautier says hazardous materials aboard the damaged ship pose no threat to public safety.

Gautier said at the briefing that the ship is holding over 1.5 million gallons of fuel, and that more than 50 of the cargo containers on board contain hazardous material. But he says that the ship is stable and that authorities have determined there is no safety risk.

“There is no threat to the public,” he says.

BUTTIGIEG CITES 4 TRANSPORTATION FOCUSES

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the Biden administration is focused on four areas related to transportation as the investigation continues in Baltimore.

Speaking at a White House news briefing Wednesday, Buttigieg said officials are focused on reopening the port, dealing with supply chain issues, rebuilding the bridge and addressing surface transportation.

Buttigieg said he will meet with shipping and supply chain officials Thursday.

“We are going to help to get it open as soon as possible,” he said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says President Joe Biden has instructed his team “to move heaven and earth” to aid in recovery and rebuilding.

SINGAPORE PLANS ITS OWN INVESTIGATION

Officials in Singapore say they will conduct their own investigation into the bridge collapse, in addition to supporting U.S. authorities.

The ship that struck the bridge, the Dali, was traveling under a Singaporean flag. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said Wednesday it was working with the ship’s management company, Synergy Marine Group, to get information to the U.S. Coast Guard for its investigation.

The agency also said Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau will independently investigate, not to determine liability, but to identify lessons for the future.

SHIP’S FUEL HEATER PRESSURE GAUGES HAD PROBLEM IN 2023

A 2023 inspection of the ship in a Chilean port turned up a problem with the fuel heater’s pressure gauges, but it was corrected before the ship left the port, the Maritime Authority of the Chilean Navy says.

Previous reports had indicated the June inspection of the Dali in Chile identified a problem with the ship’s “propulsion and auxiliary machinery,” according to the shipping information website Equasis, but the records didn’t elaborate.

The Chilean Navy said in a statement Wednesday that the ship had been inspected in the port of San Antonio on June 27, 2023, and that the pressure gauges of the fuel heaters “were detected to be illegible.”

The problem was corrected the same day, and the ship was able to depart, the Chilean Navy says.

The Dali was most recently inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard in New York in September 2023, and no deficiencies were detected, according to Equasis.

MEXICAN PRESIDENT HIGHLIGHTS CONTRIBUTIONS OF MIGRANT WORKERS

The president of Mexico says three Mexicans were among the workers on the bridge when it collapsed.

Two of the Mexican workers are missing. The third was injured and rescued.

“He is safe now,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday.

López Obrador also highlighted the contributions migrant workers make to the U.S. economy.

“This demonstrates that migrants go out and do risky jobs at midnight, and for this reason they do not deserve to be treated as they are by certain insensitive, irresponsible politicians in the United States,” he said.

By The Associated Press

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