April 14, 2024


The 21 crew members of Dali, of which 20 are Indians, are still onboard the crippled cargo ship (File)

New York:

The Indian crew onboard a crippled container vessel that collided against a key bridge in Baltimore last week is “healthy”, according to a nonprofit organisation that has been in touch with the personnel.

The 2.6km-long, four-lane bridge over the Patapsco River in Baltimore, came crashing down after Dali, a 984-foot cargo ship bound for Sri Lanka, collided against it in the early hours of March 26.

The 21 crew members of Dali, of which 20 are Indians, are still onboard the crippled cargo ship nearly a week after the collision.

“All I know right now is that they are healthy and we are doing the best we can to support their needs emotionally and otherwise,” Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre Executive Director The Rev. Joshua Messick told PTI.

Joshua Messick said he has “been in touch with the crew via WhatsApp” and described the crew’s responses to him as well as to those who are in touch with it as being “succinct”.

“I imagine they are being very careful about what they say and to whom,” he said.

Joshua Messick added that he has again reached out to the crew of the Dali to “see if I could have anything delivered to them today.” The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre is a nonprofit organisation serving seafarers who call on the Port of Baltimore from all over the world. Its mission is to “facilitate the well-being of crew members by offering transportation ashore,” according to information on its website.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi had said that 20 Indians are onboard the cargo ship Dali and the Indian Embassy in Washington is in close touch with them and the local authorities.

“Our information is that there are 21 crew members, of which 20 are Indians. All of them are in good shape, (and in) good health. One of them got injured slightly and needed to have some stitches, and stitches have been given. And, he has gone back to the ship,” MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in response to a query during his weekly media briefing last week.

He had also said the Indian Embassy in the US is in “close touch with the Indians onboard the ship and also local authorities”.

Joshua Messick said he is also reaching out to the captains of all eight vessels currently trapped in the Port of Baltimore following the bridge accident.

His organisation is working in tandem with the other seafarers’ centre in Baltimore – Apostleship of the Sea – to offer support to the crews and personnel on the other vessels as well.

“We will work together to provide whatever services we can while you are in Baltimore. This includes transportation ashore, running errands for crew members without visas, accepting packages delivered to us on your behalf that we will then bring to the ship, and any kind of emotional care you or your crew may need,” Joshua Messick said in the message sent jointly by him as well as Andy Middleton of the Apostleship of the Sea/Stella Maris.

Last week, US authorities began interviewing personnel, including the Indian crew members, onboard Dali that collided against the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

Shipping company Synergy Group, which manages the Singapore-flagged Dali, said in a statement last week that the US agency National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) boarded the vessel on Wednesday and collected documents, voyage data recorder extracts, and other evidence as part of their investigation.

“The NTSB also began interviewing crew members. We will continue to cooperate with investigators throughout this process,” Synergy said.

Dali’s owners Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and Synergy had confirmed the safety of all crew members and two pilots aboard the vessel. They, however, reported one minor injury and said the injured crew member had been treated and discharged from the hospital.

“One of the vessel’s crew members who was injured returned to the vessel on Wednesday after being treated,” Synergy said.

Six persons, who were part of a construction crew repairing potholes on the Francis Scott Key Bridge when the collision occurred in the early hours of March 26, are presumed dead.

Divers recovered the bodies of two of the construction workers from a red pickup truck found submerged in the Patapsco River and search is on for the remaining four victims.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has said the removal of the wreckage of the bridge and the cargo ship is a complex and time-consuming operation.

“This is not a Baltimore catastrophe, not a Maryland catastrophe. This is a national economic catastrophe,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore told CNN in an interview on Sunday.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore said this port is one of the busiest, most active ports in the country. “So, this is not just going to have an impact on Maryland. This is going to impact the farmers in Kentucky. This is going to impact the auto dealer in Ohio. This is going to impact the restaurant owner in Tennessee,” he said.

“This is not just about Maryland’s economy. This is something that is impacting the nation’s economy. This is the largest port for new cars, for heavy trucks, and for agricultural equipment. So, this is impacting people all over the country,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore told MSNBC in another interview.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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