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Baltimore bridge collapse a 'national economic catastrophe', says Maryland Governor

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Washington, Mar 31 (PTI) Maryland Governor Wes Moore on Sunday said the collapse of Francis Scott Key bridge last week that has brought to a standstill the busy Baltimore port is a “national economic catastrophe”.

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

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

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.

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"Whether you're talking about all those various industries, the Port of Baltimore is the largest in the country for all of those things. So, the reason that we need people to move in a bipartisan basis and move in a fast basis is not because we need you to do Maryland a favour. Maryland needs no favours. We need to make sure that we're moving quickly to get the American economy going again; because the Port of Baltimore is instrumental in our larger economic growth,” 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, for agricultural equipment. So, this is impacting people all over the country,” Moore told MSNBC in another interview.

Appearing on Sunday morning talk shows, Moore said that one of the largest cranes which has the capacity of lifting 1,000 pounds, had arrived to remove the wreckage of the bridge and the cargo ship that was mainly manned by all Indian crew.

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The crane has begun to “cut up the remnants of the bridge that we can then prepare for removal. The complicated nature of this is, we have a ship that is nearly the size of the Eiffel Tower that is now stuck within the channel that has the Key Bridge sitting on top of it,” Moore told CNN.

"We can't underestimate how difficult this task is. This is unprecedented where you have a ship that is almost the size of the Eiffel Tower that is stuck in the channel. That has the Key Bridge which is 3,000 to 4,000 tons of steel that is sitting on top of it. This is a remarkably complex operation. And so frankly, our entire focus, all of our time, has been focused on that and nothing else,” he told MSNBC.

But this is going to be a long road. “It's a very complex operation, but movement is happening. And we're grateful for the people who are out there doing this work,” he said.

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Notably, more than 1.1 million containers of cargo passed through the Port of Baltimore last year, including more cars and light trucks than any other port in the US.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the incident. "We need to have answers on what happened. We need to know who is and should be accountable for this. And we need to make sure we're holding them accountable,” he said.

NTSB is looking into everything that happened to have led to this tragedy. "They're looking into all the actions that happened as the tragedy was occurring and they're also looking into the aftermath. That investigation is going to be ongoing and we need for that investigation to happen because we all need answers,” he said.

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"We all need a certainty. We all need an understanding because if we are going to rebuild, we first need to have a basis and an understanding of what exactly happened, and if people need to be held accountable, they need to be held accountable. So that investigation is going to take place,” he said.

"But the work of these first responders, I cannot overstate enough, they saved countless lives, the fact that they moved so quickly when that mayday went up to be able to block traffic from getting more cars on the bridge,” he said.

"Had they not stopped that flow of traffic, cars would have kept coming even after the bridge collapsed, because, when you're moving at that speed and you're moving in darkness, none of these drivers would have known that there's no bridge anymore,” he noted. PTI LKJ ZH ZH

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