Baltimore rescuers lose hope for more survivors from bridge collapse

BALTIMORE — The Coast Guard said rescuers have lost hope of finding more survivors from the Baltimore bridge collapse, as efforts shifted Wednesday to recovering bodies and seeking answers to why a container ship struck the span.

Divers were expected to return near dawn to the waters around the bridge’s twisted ruins in Baltimore Harbor to search for six workers missing and presumed dead.

The disaster has led to the indefinite closure of the Port of Baltimore, a major hub on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, disrupting traffic in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.

The search for the missing workers was suspended Tuesday evening, 18 hours after they were thrown from the fallen Francis Scott Key Bridge into the cold waters at the mouth of the Patapsco River, as the likelihood of finding them alive diminished.

“We do not believe that we’re going to find any of these individuals alive,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said during a briefing.

Maryland State Police and U.S. Coast Guard officials cited diminished visibility and increasingly dangerous currents in the wreckage-filled channel as reasons for halting the river search overnight.

Starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, “we’re hoping to put divers in the water and begin a more detailed search to do our very best to recover those six missing people,” State Police Col. Roland Butler told reporters late Tuesday.

Two other workers were rescued from the water Tuesday, with one hospitalized. The six presumed dead included workers from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador, according to the Mexican Consulate in Washington.

Officials reported that all eight were part of a crew repairing potholes on the Key Bridge’s road surface when the Singapore-flagged container vessel Dali, departing Baltimore for Sri Lanka, struck a support pylon of the bridge around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.