Biden administration OKs $60m in aid for Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster

Maryland Governor Wes Moore warns of ‘very long road ahead’ to recover from deadly bridge collapse.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster in Baltimore collapsed after being struck by a container ship [Peter Knudson/NTSB via AP Photo]Published On 29 Mar 202429 Mar 2024

United States President Joe Biden’s administration has unveiled $60m in emergency funds to support cleanup and reconstruction efforts in the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster in Baltimore.

The Federal Highway Administration said on Thursday it provided the “quick release” funds to rebuild the collapsed bridge within hours of receiving a request from the Maryland Department of Transportation.

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The swift disbursement of the funds came after Biden earlier this week said he had directed the government to “move heaven and earth” to quickly rebuild the bridge, which collapsed on Tuesday after being struck by a cargo ship.

“No one will ever forget the shocking images of a container vessel striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing its collapse and the tragic loss of six people,” US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

“The federal emergency funds we’re releasing today will help Maryland begin urgent work, to be followed by further resources as recovery and rebuilding efforts progress. President Biden has been clear: The federal government will do everything it takes to help rebuild the bridge and get the Port of Baltimore back open.”

The announcements of the funds came as Maryland Governor Wes Moore warned of a “very long road ahead” to recover from the disaster as experts consider how to remove the Singapore-flagged Dali from the mangled wreckage of the bridge.

“The Dali is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower and the Dali has the Key Bridge on top of it. We’re talking 3,000 or 4,000 tonnes of steel that’s sitting on top of that ship,” Moore said.

Authorities have said they need clear wreckage from the ocean floor to reach the bodies of four missing workers believed to be trapped in their vehicles in a “superstructure” of concrete and other debris.

Divers on Wednesday recovered the bodies of two workers from a pick-up truck near the bridge’s middle span.

Federal officials have told Maryland lawmakers the final cost of reconstructing the bridge could reach $2bn, Roll Call reported, citing a source familiar with the discussions.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies