200-ton piece of Key Bridge wreckage removed from river

BALTIMORE, Md. - A 200-ton piece of the Key Bridge was removed from the Patapsco River Saturday, four days after the collapse that left six people dead.

The Unified Command began cutting operations Saturday to remove the wreckage. Officials say the demolition crews are cutting the top portion of the north side of the collapsed bridge truss.

They are using two crane barges — a 650-ton crane and a 330-ton crane — to work the scene.

The removed wreckage will be lifted and transferred to a barge this evening as daylight allows.

A 230-ton land-based crane will offload and process the wreckage at Tradepoint Atlantic and will then be taken to a disposal site.

The bridge collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday after a massive shipping vessel hit a piller. Eight construction workers who were filling potholes on the bridge were plunged into the frigid water.

Two people were quickly rescued. So far, two bodies have been recovered but four others remain missing. The two victims, 35-year-old Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes of Baltimore and 26-year-old Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera of Dundalk, were found in a pickup truck submerged about 25 feet down.

The recovery mission was called off Friday. Officials said soon after the collapse that sonar detected the presence of several vehicles in the water but at this time, debris has to be cleared before divers can investigate further.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore continues to warn there’s a very long road ahead.

"If the Eiffel Tower was laid down, this vessel is almost the size of the Eiffel Tower, and the only difference is that it now has the key bridge laying on top of it. This is remarkably complicated. While this is also having a salvage operation with many, many moving variables. The reality at this point is there are far many unknowns than known," Moore said.

Moore said "the best minds in the world" are working on cleanup efforts.

The Key Bridge Response command team includes crews with the U.S. Coast Guard,U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Transportation Authority, Synergy Marine and the Maryland State Police.

The bridge carried nearly 30,000 vehicles a day and the Baltimore Harbor is one of the busiest in the U.S., particularly for car shipments, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.

Maryland’s Department of Labor has set up a hotline to help those affected by the collapse with their unemployment insurance claims. Call 667-930-5989.