Biden to meet with relatives of bridge collapse victims while visiting Baltimore on Friday

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President Joe Biden will meet with some of the relatives of the six construction workers who died in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge when the president visits Baltimore on Friday, the White House said.

The White House previously announced Biden would be meeting with local officials and viewing the wreckage of the bridge, which collapsed early last week after a massive cargo ship hit one of its support pillars, sending the bridge into the water and choking the port of Baltimore, which sees millions of dollars of trade every day.

White House director of intergovernmental affairs Tom Perez visited with the families of some of the victims last week, describing “inconsolable” relatives and the urgency with which officials are working to recover the remaining four bodies that remain accounted for in a twisted mess of steel.

Perez told CNN in an interview he was in touch with the families and is coordinating with various government agencies, including US Citizenship and Immigration Services to coordinate visits to the United States for some relatives.

“We’re working very closely with the folks in the immigrant affairs offices to identify those needs – and there’s a range of needs,” Perez said.

Perez noted that the US is engaged in different processes involving four different countries, in addition to specific requests from the families, including some who want to visit the US and at least one who wants the victim’s body repatriated.

In an appearance on MSNBC last week, Perez said some relatives were inconsolable after the collapse. One spouse repeatedly told him, “I just want his body.”

“It’s so hard. … The most fundamental right any worker has when they go to work is to come home safe and sound. And they didn’t. And I didn’t sleep well last night, and my issues pale in comparison to what they are going through,” Perez said.

“It’s a gut punch for the president,” Perez told MSNBC, “it’s a gut punch for these families. And we’re going to do our level best to make sure we help them, to make sure that we take care of them, and to make sure that the search and rescue operations continue.”

“We’re continuing to work with those families and we’re trying to address all of their needs,” he said.

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