Biden pledges to replace Baltimore bridge ‘soon as humanly possible’

Baltimore bridge
The 948-foot-long Singapore-flagged container ship ‘Dali’ lost power and struck the bridge in Baltimore at 1.27am yesterday, bringing it down (US Army Corps of Engineers/Public domain)

US President Joe Biden has pledged to reopen the Port of Baltimore and replace the destroyed Francis Scott Key Bridge “as soon as humanly possible”.

Most of the 2.6km-long bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River after an out-of-control container ship struck one of its supports around 1.27am local time yesterday.

Six construction workers were unaccounted for today, with officials saying they had moved from rescue to recovery operations.

“I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden told reporters yesterday.

He added: “It’s my intention that federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect … Congress to support my effort.”

Baltimore bridge
Maryland governor Wes Moore, left, and Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott observe the scene of the collapse yesterday (Courtesy of Carter Elliott, IV, press secretary to Governor Moore)

Before hitting the bridge, the ship’s crew issued a mayday request saying it had lost power and was drifting out of control.

Asked if the shipping company should be held responsible, Biden said that was possible, but said he wouldn’t wait for that outcome.

“We’re going to pay for it to get the bridge rebuilt and open,” he said.

Ship traffic in the port has been suspended until further notice.

Biden said it was the top US port for imports and exports of automobiles and light trucks, which was why it needed to re-open as soon as possible.

He added that 30,000 vehicles crossed the collapsed bridge a day.

Background and commentary on the bridge:

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