Search and rescue efforts suspended for 6 construction workers after Baltimore bridge collapse

The head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) told reporters Tuesday that before anyone can think about cleaning up debris from Baltimore's collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, the focus will be on families and people affected by this tragic and devastating event.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy provided an update to reporters during a press briefing, although she prefaced the briefing by saying she would not answer questions about the deaths, deferring those questions to the agencies local.

Instead, she said the NTSB would step back to allow the Coast Guard and others involved in search and rescue efforts after the main deck was struck by a container ship and crashed. collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Homendy said a team of experts will investigate everything leading up to the accident, including nautical operations, vessel operations, safety history, vessel safety record, owner operations , company policy, safety management, human performance, engineering, survival factors and more.

She also said the road safety team and structural engineers would assist in the investigation.

A family support team will be on hand to help families, friends and loved ones of those affected by the collapse.

“It’s a team effort,” Homendy said, adding that there were many entities at the command post.

As for the number of cars and workers on the bridge at the time of the collapse, Homendy said the information needs to be verified.

She said she doesn't think anyone is thinking about the next steps of cleaning the bridge and reopening the shipping route. Instead, Homendy said, it was about families.

“No one trusts a number,” she said. “They just look and search.”

Homendy told reporters she was not aware the bridge had been flagged for safety lapses in the past, although the investigation will look into that. She also said the investigation into the history of the bridge could take at least two years and would not be verified on site.

Still, Homendy said there wasn't much information to provide at press time because she and her team were just getting there.

“Really, the focus is on families,” she said.


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