The captain of the cargo freighter that crashed into Baltimore Harbor had radioed for tugboat assistance and reported a power outage minutes before, federal safety authorities said on Wednesday, citing audio from the ship’s “black box” data recorder.

The president of the National Transportation Safety Board also stated that the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a traffic artery over the harbor completed in 1976, lacked structural engineering redundancies seen in newer spans, making it more susceptible to catastrophic collapse.

A day after the giant Singapore-flagged container ship Dali, sailing out of Baltimore Harbor destined for Sri Lanka, reported losing power and maneuverability before colliding with a bridge support pylon, new details about the deadly accident surfaced.

The impact sent the majority of the bridge sliding into the mouth of the Patapsco River almost immediately, clogging shipping channels and forcing the indefinite closure of the Port of Baltimore, one of the busiest on the Eastern Seaboard.

Divers retrieved the corpses of two of the six workers who went missing after the disintegrating bridge pushed them into the river, authorities said on Wednesday.

According to Maryland State Police Colonel Roland Butler, a red pickup vehicle holding the two men’s remains was discovered in approximately 25 feet (7.62 m) of water at the midpoint of the collapsed bridge.

He also stated that officials had paused efforts to recover further remains from the depths owing to the increasingly dangerous conditions in the wreckage-strewn port. Butler stated that sonar photos revealed other underwater automobiles “encased” in sunken bridge rubble, making them impossible to access.

The remains of two males discovered on Wednesday were identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, a Mexican native, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of neighboring Dundalk, a Guatemalan native.

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Four other workmen who were part of a group fixing potholes on the bridge’s road surface are still missing and feared dead. According to authorities, the six comprised Honduran and Salvadoran immigrants.

On Tuesday, rescuers retrieved two workers from the river alive, with one being taken to the hospital.

The economic consequences might be enormous. The port handles more vehicle and agricultural equipment freight than any other in the country, as well as container freight and bulk items such as sugar and coal.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that the 8,000 employment are “directly associated” with port operations, which produce $2 million each day in pay.

Nonetheless, economists and logistics experts doubted that the port shutdown would cause a major U.S. supply chain problem or a large increase in the price of products, citing considerable capacity at competing shipping hubs on the East Coast.

The collapse, which occurred around 1:30 a.m., has also caused traffic problems in Baltimore and the surrounding area.

Interviewing Survivors

Earlier on Wednesday, an NTSB team boarded the idled freighter, which was still tied in the port channel with part of the shredded bridge stretched over its bow, to begin interrogating the ship’s two pilots and 21 regular crew members who remained on board, according to safety board chief Jennifer Homendy.

Investigators also began studying material from the ship’s Voyage Data Recorder, which included radio activity between the pilot and shore-based officials before to the catastrophe.

The pilot was heard requesting for tugboat help several minutes before the disaster, the first sign of trouble to harbor officials, followed by a radio report that the ship had lost all power and was nearing the bridge, NTSB officials said during a news briefing on Wednesday night.

The ship’s lights winked off before momentarily returning before going out again, according to video footage obtained during the crash.

Homendy stated that while recorder data was “consistent with a power outage,” no real blackout had been established.

The recorder also picked up directions for the crew to drop anchor, presumably to slow the vessel.

According to Safety Board investigator Marcel Muise, records suggest that the Dali, which was nearly three football fields long and packed high with shipping containers, was traveling at around 8 miles per hour (12.8 km) when it collided with a bridge abutment.

Homendy stated that, while the bridge was found to be in “satisfactory” condition during its most recent inspection in 2023, it was built in such a way that failure of one structural element “would likely cause a portion of, or the entire bridge to collapse.”

On Wednesday, open-source recordings of emergency radio traffic from the moments when authorities were warned that the cargo ship Dali was drifting out of control into Key Bridge revealed further details about last-minute efforts to preserve lives.

“Hold all traffic on the Key Bridge. “There’s a ship approaching that has just lost its steering,” someone says over a police radio.

While voices were heard debating next moves, such as notifying any construction personnel to abandon the bridge, one broke through to announce, “The whole bridge just fell down!” The audio was distributed via the public streaming site Broadcastify.

The US Coast Guard’s initial priority are to reopen the canal for trade, stabilize the damaged vessel, then extract it, according to Vice Admiral Peter Gautier during a White House news conference.

According to Gautier, 56 of the ship’s 4,700 cargo containers contain dangerous items, but there is no concern to the public. During the collision, two containers fell overboard, although none contained dangerous items. Gautier said the ship was carrying more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel oil.

Homendy stated that part of the vessel’s hazmat containers had been ruptured, and a sheen was visible on the water’s surface.