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Workers remove the first debris at the bridge collapse site

Crews in Baltimore were working Saturday to pull the first pieces of debris from the water after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a clear sign of progress in the arduous effort to reopen the busy waterway.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath told a news conference that his crews aimed to lift the first section of the bridge “north of the deep-draft channel.” He added, “Just like running a marathon, you have to take those first few steps.”

The bridge is an important transportation hub leading to one of the largest ports in the United States, and the longer the bridge is out of service, the collapse will cost the region and the country millions of dollars. More than 8,000 workers on the docks were directly affected, Maryland Governor Wes Moore said.

Mr Moore said cutting and removing the northern section of the bridge “ultimately will allow us to create a temporary restricted channel which will help us get more vessels into the waters around the collapse site.”

Officials in charge of the cleanup added on Saturday that salvage teams would use gas-fired cutters to systematically separate sections of the steel bridge before sending them to a disposal site.

The work comes less than a week after a giant container ship called the Dali suffered a complete blackout and crashed into the bridge, killing six construction workers and dragging the bridge into the Patapsco River.

The remains of two of the men have been recovered, but the search for others thought to be dead ended after officials concluded conditions were too dangerous for divers to try to find them.

On Saturday, Mr. Moore said officials had not lost sight of the search for the missing victims, who are migrants from Mexico and Central America. The authorities assured him that “as soon as the situation changes, those rescue divers will set out immediately”. Return to the water. “

The disaster has cast a particular pall over the growing Hispanic community in and around Baltimore, where waves of immigrants from Latin America have transformed neighborhoods like Highlandtown, Dundalk and Glen Burnie. All the victims worked dangerous jobs. Repair potholes and maintain bridges.

Authorities, relatives and advocacy groups for the Latino community have identified at least five victims: Jose López, in his 30s, Alejandro Hernand, 35, of Baltimore Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 26, of Dundalk, Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, Md.; Miguel Luna, 40 Maynor Yasir Suazo Sandoval, 30s, from El Salvador; Maynor Yasir Suazo Sandoval, 30s, from Honduras.

The bodies of Fuentes and Cabrera were discovered Wednesday, authorities said.

Mr Moore addressed the families of the victims in Spanish on Saturday, saying: “They are in our hearts. They are in our minds, today and forever.”

Standing not far from the wreckage on Saturday, Mr. Moore reiterated that state and federal officials faced a long road to recovery. But he said at least 377 people were participating in recovery operations and the pace of progress in this round would increase on the clock in the coming days.

“We will take action as quickly as possible,” he said.

Anna Bates Contributed reporting.

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