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Temporary channel opened in Baltimore harbor to aid bridge response


US authorities working on the Baltimore bridge collapse have opened the first of two small, temporary channels to let ships access the site of the incident.

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HT Image

These channels will initially only be open to vessels involved in the Francis Scott Key Bridge cleanup operation, and will not be big enough to allow cargo and container ships to pass through.

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The first of the channels opened Monday, US Coast Guard petty officer Carmen Caver told AFP, adding it was “only for commercial vessels that are involved with the salvage.”

A second temporary channel is also planned, and will be opened at a later date, another US Coast Guard official said.

The temporary lanes will be used by workers undertaking the mammoth task of clearing the harbor of the steel structure, which was destroyed in a matter of seconds last Tuesday when an out-of-control ship struck it, killing six people.

Authorities hope that removing the bridge by cutting it into smaller sections and lifting them out will help rescuers recover all the victims’ bodies as well as reopen the crucial shipping lane.

On Friday, President Joe Biden is due to visit the port city, which is about 40 miles north of Washington, the White House announced.

The first temporary channel will have a controlling depth of 11 feet , a 264-foot horizontal clearance and vertical clearance of 96 feet, the multi-agency task force overseeing the operation said in a statement.

The temporary channel “is not big enough for any container or cargo ships to pass through,” Caver told AFP, adding: “They’re working on a plan to make it slowly open to more and more people.”

The port of Baltimore is a key hub for the auto industry, handling almost 850,000 autos and light trucks last year more than any other US port according to Maryland state figures.

It also ranked first for farm and construction machinery, as well as imported sugar and gypsum, and second for coal exports.

The port’s ongoing closure is already hitting the US economy, Maryland Governor Wes Moore told MSNBC on Sunday.

“It’s impacting people all over the country,” he said.

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This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.



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