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Nearly 2 months after Baltimore bridge collapse, Dali crew still stuck on board

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On March 26, the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in Baltimore, killing six people after a ship hit the bridge. Nearly two months later, the men aboard the ship are still stuck on board the Dali.

In total, 21 men remain trapped aboard the vessel. Of those men, 20 are from India while one is a Sri Lankan national. Controlled demolition began on Monday, May 15, giving the men onboard the Dali hope that it signals the beginning of the end of their entrapment.

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The crew has been stuck on the ship due to Visa restrictions, lack of access to shore passes and ongoing investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI.

The crew has been largely without communication to the outside world after the FBI confiscated all members’ phones as part of its investigation.

Two unions representing the crew said that “morale has understandably dipped,” exacerbated by “unfounded fears of personal criminal liability” and the emotional toll of being trapped.

The unions called for the “swift” return of the crew’s phones, citing the impact of losing communication with family members, especially for crew members with children.

The unified command overseeing the response to the ship and the bridge collapse could not give a timeline for when the men may be able to disembark for their home countries. However, the unified command said that the crew’s needs are being tended to, providing examples of having Indian food catered to members in addition to offering religious and emotional support.

The BBC reported that some people have provided donations to the men as well, such as handmade quilts and Indian snacks.

Executive Director Joshua Messick of The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center has been in contact with the men. The center helps protect the rights of mariners. Messick said he expects to be able to board the ship as soon as it is moved out of the shipping channel. After the ship moves, he believes the sailors will be eligible for shore passes with very restricted movements.

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[JACK AYLMER]

MUCH HAS CHANGED SINCE THE DEADLY BALTIMORE BRIDGE COLLAPSE ON MARCH 26TH. 

ONE THING THAT HAS NOT– THE CREW OF 21 IS STILL STUCK ON THE SHIP THAT HIT THE BRIDGE.

AS A CONTROLLED DEMOLITION OF THE FRANCIS SCOTT KEY BRIDGE GOT UNDERWAY THIS WEEK– THE MEN ABOARD THE SHIP HOPE IT SIGNALS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THEIR ENTRAPMENT. 

THE CREW OF 21 MEN IS FAR FROM HOME.

20 ARE FROM INDIA–AND ONE FROM SRI LANKA.

BECAUSE OF ONGOING INVESTIGATIONS, VISAS RESTRICTIONS, AND NO ACCESS TO SHORE PASSES– THE MEN ARE UNABLE TO LEAVE.

MAKING MATTERS WORSE THE CREW HAS BEEN LARGELY WITHOUT COMMUNICATION TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD AFTER THE F-B-I CONFISCATED ALL THEIR PHONES AS PART OF IT’S INVESTIGATION.

TWO UNIONS REPRESENTING THE CREW SAID, “MORALE HAS UNDERSTANDABLY DIPPED.”

CAUSED BY “UNFOUNDED FEARS OF PERSONAL CRIMINAL LIABILITY” AND THE EMOTIONAL TOLL.

THE UNIONS CALLED FOR THE “SWIFT” RETURN OF THE CREWS PHONES. 

CITING THE IMPACT OF LOSING COMMUNICATION WITH FAMILY MEMBERS, ESPECIALLY FOR CREW MEMBERS WITH CHILDREN.

EVENTUALLY THE CREW WAS GIVEN SIM CARDS AND TEMPORARY PHONES WITH NO DATA INCLUDED. 

THE UNIFIED COMMAND OVERSEEING THE RESPONSE TO THE SHIP AND BRIDGE COLLAPSE COULD NOT GIVE A TIMELINE FOR WHEN THE MEN MIGHT BE ABLE TO DISEMBARK.

BUT SAID THEIR NEEDS ARE BEING TENDED TO.

THE MEN HAVE BEEN CATERED INDIAN FOOD AND HAVE BEEN PROVIDED WITH RELIGIOUS AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. 

AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BALTIMORE SEAFARERS CENTER, WHICH HELPS PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF MARINERS, HAS BEEN IN CONTACT WITH THE MEN. 

HE SAID HE EXPECTS HE’LL BE ABLE TO BOARD THE SHIP AS SOON AS IT’S MOVED OUT OF THE SHIPPING CHANNEL. AFTER THAT, HE BELIEVES THE SAILORS WILL BE 

ELIGIBLE FOR SHORE PASSES WITH THEIR MOVEMENTS VERY RESTRICTED.

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