Biden tours collapsed Baltimore bridge as clearing proceeds and declares ‘your nation has your back’

President Joe Biden, aboard Marine One, takes an aerial tour of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Friday, April 5, 2024, as seen from an accompanying aircraft. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

DUNDALK, Md. — President Joe Biden got a firsthand look Friday at efforts to clear away the “mangled mess” of remains of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, as cranes, ships and diving crews work to reopen one of the nation’s main shipping lanes.

Aboard Marine One, circling the warped metal remains and the mass of construction and salvage equipment trying to clear the wreckage of last week’s collapse, which killed six workers, Biden got an up close view of the devastation.


On the ground later, he received a briefing from local officials, the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers on the situation in the water and its impacts on the region. The president also greeted police officers who helped block traffic to the bridge in the moments before it was hit by a ship — which helped avert an even larger loss of life.

“I’m here to say your nation has your back and I mean it,” Biden said from the shoreline overlooking the collapsed bridge in Dundalk, just outside Baltimore. “Your nation has your back.”

Eight workers — immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — were filling potholes on the bridge when it was hit by a huge cargo ship and collapsed in the middle of the night of March 26. Two men were rescued and the bodies of two others were recovered in subsequent days.

Authorities announced Friday evening that salvage divers had recovered, in the hours before Biden arrived, a third body from the water, that of Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval, 38, one of the missing workers. They said the search for the other victims will continue.

The president also met for more than an hour with the families of those killed.

“The damage is devastating and our hearts are still breaking,” Biden said.

Officials have established a temporary, alternate channel for vessels involved in clearing debris. The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to open a limited-access channel for barge container ships and some vessels moving cars and farm equipment by the end of this month, and to restore normal capacity to Baltimore’s port by May 31, the White House says.

That’s important since longer delays in reopening shipping lanes could send shockwaves through the economy. As much as $200 million in cargo normally moves through Baltimore’s port per day, and it is the leading hub for importing and exporting vehicles.

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