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NTSB Investigators Found Some Hazmat Containers 'Were Breached,' Contents Spilled amid Baltimore Bridge Collapse

The agency said it could take up to "12 to 24 months" to complete its investigation

<p>AP Photo/Steve Helber</p> A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Baltimore, Md.

AP Photo/Steve Helber

A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Baltimore, Md.

New details have emerged about the Baltimore Bridge collapse in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Jennifer Homendy announced during a press conference on Wednesday night that "today is really the first full investigative day on scene."

She said her team spoke to the families of the victims and that the team was able to board the cargo ship Dali that struck the bridge to further its investigation. Homendy explained that her team focused on collecting "perishable evidence" and examining the scene.

Homendy's team confirmed that there were "21 crew members at the time of the accident plus two pilots for a total of 23 individuals on board the vessel," she said.

The cargo manifest that could be obtained was examined and showed 56 containers of hazardous materials.

"That's 764 tons of hazardous materials — mostly corrosives, flammables, and some miscellaneous hazardous materials, class nine hazardous materials, which would include lithium-ion batteries," she added.

<p>AP Photo/Steve Helber</p> A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Baltimore, Md.

AP Photo/Steve Helber

A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Baltimore, Md.

"Some of the hazmat containers were breached," added Homendy.

She added that multiple teams have been on the scene and "looked at the damage, pier protection, some of the damage to the containers, and certainly the bridge structure."

Investigator in charge Marcel Muise said that voyage data recorder information showed the vessel traveling at about eight miles per hour by the time there were "sounds consistent with the collision of the bridge."

<p>Tasos Katopodis/Getty</p> Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse

Tasos Katopodis/Getty

Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse

Homendy said the bridge was in "satisfactory" condition, noting that it was last inspected in May 2023 and her team would look over the previous report. Calling it a fracture-critical bridge, she added that it "did not have redundancy."

She explained that the scene is a "massive undertaking for an investigation" that requires "a lot of information" and analysis. Homendy estimated that the investigation could take "12 to 24 months," and a preliminary report could be released within the next few weeks.

Homendy said that "the authorities are aware" of the hazardous material spilled in the water, which she said created a "sheen" on the surface. Contents from the damaged containers were also on board the boat. She directed any questions about the dangers of the materials and clean-up to local authorities.

She added that her team is scheduled to speak with the two pilots on board Thursday and has already interviewed the captain, mate, chief engineers, and "one of the other engineers."

Related: Video Shows Horrifying Moment Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck by Cargo Ship

The Dali lost power shortly before it crashed into the Baltimore bridge, prompting crew members to issue a “mayday” call, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Moments later, at around 1:30 a.m. local time, the collision occurred and the 1.6-mile bridge fell into the Patapsco River.

The advance warning allowed officials to “stop the flow of traffic so that more cars were not on the bridge” at the time of the crash and collapse, Moore said.

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Meanwhile, recovery efforts remain ongoing for the six construction workers who entered the water after the collapse, who are all presumed dead.

<p>Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty</p> View of Dali container vessel after striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty

View of Dali container vessel after striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge

Related: Baltimore Bridge Collapse Survivor Described Watching Ship Get Closer, Says Maryland Gov.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon N. Gilreath announced Tuesday that authorities believed the victims were dead "based on the length of time that we've gone on this search, the extensive search efforts that we've put into it, the water temperature."

Emphasizing that the U.S. Coast Guard is "not going away," Gilreath added, "We're just going to transition to a different phase." Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., Maryland State Police secretary, added that their mission has turned into a "recovery operation."

On Wednesday, authorities said they recovered the bodies of two victims, identified as Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, of Baltimore, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, of Dundalk. The remains of four others have not been recovered.

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