Recovery Mission Begins for presumed deceased 6 Missing Construction Workers After Bridge Disaster

Search and recovery teams will resume operations at 6 a.m. Wednesday, transitioning to a grim mission to locate the remains of six construction workers presumed killed when the Francis Scott Key Bridge catastrophically collapsed into the Patapsco River.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced the shift from rescue to recovery efforts late Tuesday evening after an intensive day of searching that failed to locate any additional survivors beyond the two people initially pulled from the waters.

“Based on the length of time that we’ve gone on in the search, the extensive search efforts that we’ve put into it, the water temperature at this point, we do not believe that we’re going to find any of these individuals still alive,” Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath said somberly.

On Tuesday, some 50 divers from agencies across Maryland worked relentlessly to comb through the mangled wreckage and debris field. But treacherous conditions including strong currents, low visibility, and jagged submerged metal and concrete forced repeated temporary halts for safety reasons.

The bridge’s demise came after the 948-foot Singaporean container ship Dali collided with one of its support columns early Tuesday morning around 1:30 a.m. The catastrophic impact sent a portion of the roadway crashing down, tossing eight people and multiple vehicles nearly 100 feet into the Patapsco below.

While two people were rescued soon after and one was hospitalized, six construction workers who had been performing overnight maintenance on the aging bridge remain missing and feared dead. All 22 crew aboard the Dali were reported safe by Singaporean officials.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore, who swiftly declared a state of emergency, said investigators believe this was an “accident” rather than an intentional act. The FBI echoed there is no current evidence suggesting ties to terrorism.

Still, questions persist about what caused the cargo ship to veer off course and slam into the bridge’s supports with such devastating force.

“It’s a really heartbreaking conclusion to a challenging day,” Gov. Moore said late Tuesday. “We put every single asset possible – air, land and sea – to aid in the members’ survivability for these families. Even though we’re moving on now to a recovery mission, we’re still fully committed to making sure that we are going to use every single asset to now bring a sense of closure.”

The victims have been identified as construction workers from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador contracted for the bridge maintenance project by Brawner Builders. In a statement, the company said it had already presumed the six missing men dead hours before the official recovery announcement.

As dive teams prepare for another agonizing day of searching for remains, a massive emergency presence will remain at the scene as the National Transportation Safety Board launches its official investigation into the deadly incident. Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and Singapore’s maritime authorities are expected to assist.

The crumpled wreckage of the 97-year-old bridge extends across a wide debris path in the river, a chilling symbol of a city and state’s anguish. But even amid profound tragedy, many have hailed the heroic life-saving efforts of first responders as a beacon of hope amid the heartbreak.

While a somber recovery operation now takes priority, officials vow to leave no stone unturned in pursuing accountability and answers about how such an unthinkable disaster could occur.