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Collapsed Baltimore bridge span comes down with a boom

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Collapsed Baltimore bridge span comes down with a boom

Explosive charges are detonated to bring down sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the container ship Dali on Monday in Baltimore.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP


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Mark Schiefelbein/AP


Explosive charges are detonated to bring down sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the container ship Dali on Monday in Baltimore.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

BALTIMORE — Crews set off a chain of carefully placed explosives Monday to break down the largest remaining span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, and with a boom and a splash, the mangled steel trusses came crashing down into the river below.

The explosives flashed orange and let off plumes of black smoke upon detonation. The longest trusses toppled away from the grounded Dali container ship and slid off its bow, sending a wall of water splashing back toward the ship.

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It marked a major step in freeing the Dali, which has been stuck among the wreckage since it lost power and crashed into one of the bridge’s support columns shortly after leaving Baltimore on March 26.

The collapse killed six construction workers and halted most maritime traffic through Baltimore’s busy port. The controlled demolition will allow the Dali to be refloated and restore traffic through the port, which will provide relief for thousands of longshoremen, truckers and small business owners who have seen their jobs impacted by the closure.

Officials said the detonation went as planned. They said the next step in the dynamic cleanup process is to assess the few remaining trusses on the Dali’s bow and make sure none of the underwater wreckage is preventing the ship from being refloated and moved.

“It’s a lot like peeling back an onion,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Officials expect to refloat the ship within the next few days. Then three or four tugboats will guide it to a nearby terminal at the port. It will likely remain there for a several weeks and undergo temporary repairs before being moved to a shipyard for more substantial repairs.

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“This was a very big milestone for our progression forward,” Col. Estee Pinchasin, Baltimore District Commander for the Army Corps of Engineers, said in the immediate aftermath of the demolition. She said crews don’t anticipate having to use any more explosives.

The Dali’s crew remained on board the ship during the detonation, and no injuries or problems were reported, said Capt. David O’Connell, commander of the Port of Baltimore.

The crew members haven’t been allowed to leave the grounded vessel since the disaster. Officials said they’ve been busy maintaining the ship and assisting investigators. Of the crew members, 20 are from India and one is Sri Lankan.

Explosive charges are detonated to bring down sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the container ship Dali on Monday in Baltimore.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP


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Mark Schiefelbein/AP


Explosive charges are detonated to bring down sections of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge resting on the container ship Dali on Monday in Baltimore.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

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Engineers spent weeks preparing to use explosives to break down the span, which was an estimated 500 feet (152 meters) long and weighs up to 600 tons (544 metric tons). The demolition was postponed Sunday because of thunderstorms.

“This is a best practice,” Gov. Wes Moore said at a news conference Monday, noting that there have been no injuries during the cleanup to date. “Safety in this operation is our top priority.”

Fire teams were stationed in the area during the explosion in case of any problematic flying sparks, officials said.

In a videographic released this week, authorities said engineers were using precision cuts to control how the trusses break down. They said the method allows for “surgical precision” and is one of the safest and most efficient ways to remove steel under a high level of tension. Hydraulic grabbers will now lift the broken sections of steel onto barges.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI are conducting investigations into the bridge collapse. Officials have said the safety board investigation will focus on the ship’s electrical system.

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Danish shipping giant Maersk had chartered the Dali for a planned trip from Baltimore to Sri Lanka, but the ship didn’t get far. Its crew sent a mayday call saying they had lost power and had no control of the steering system. Minutes later, the ship rammed into the bridge.

State and federal officials have commended the salvage crews and other members of the cleanup operation who helped recover the remains of the six construction workers. The last body was recovered from the underwater wreckage last week. All of the victims were Latino immigrants who came to the U.S. for job opportunities. They were filling potholes on an overnight shift when the bridge was destroyed.

Officials said the operation remains on track to reopen the port’s 50-foot (15-meter) deep draft channel by the end of May. Until then, crews have established a temporary channel that’s slightly shallower. Officials said 365 commercial vessels have passed through the port in recent weeks. The port normally processes more cars and farm equipment than any other in the country.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native whose father and brother served as mayor decades ago, compared the Key Bridge disaster to the overnight bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, which long ago inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. She said both are a testament to Maryland’s resilience.

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Pelosi, a Democrat who represents California’s 11th district, attended Monday’s news conference with two of her relatives. She praised the collective response to the tragedy as various government agencies have come together, working quickly without sacrificing safety.

“Proof through the night that our flag was still there,” she said. “That’s Baltimore strong.”

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Chinese industrial profits return to growth

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Chinese industrial profits return to growth

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Profits at China’s industrial companies returned to growth in April, highlighting Beijing’s efforts to boost manufacturing as other areas of the world’s second-largest economy struggle to regain momentum.

Industrial profits at businesses with more than Rmb20mn ($2.8mn) in turnover increased 4 per cent year on year in April after a decline of 3.5 per cent in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. So far this year, their profits are up 4.3 per cent, unchanged compared with the rate in the first quarter after a large jump at the start of the year.

The improved April data follows a rise in Chinese exports in the same month after a push from Xi Jinping’s government to boost “high-quality development” in manufacturing, which prompted complaints from western leaders over perceived overcapacity.

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The EU is carrying out a probe into state support for Chinese electric vehicle production, while US President Joe Biden this month introduced 100 per cent tariffs on EV imports from China, where intense domestic competition has spurred a price war.

Recent economic data in China is being closely watched for further evidence of the government’s strategy as it grapples with a historic property sector slowdown and weak consumption. Exports in April grew 1.5 per cent year on year in dollar terms, while industrial production jumped 6.7 per cent.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs noted strong increases in profits across equipment manufacturing in the first four months, with profits in electronics and transportation equipment growing by 76 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively.

Yu Weining, statistician for the National Bureau of Statistics, also emphasised the contribution of equipment manufacturing and said market demand picked up in April, citing the impact of “macroeconomic policies”.

But Yu added that domestic demand remained “insufficient” and that the development of new productive forces — a widely used term in China for its recent focus on manufacturing — still needed to be “accelerated”.

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State-owned companies’ profits dropped 2.8 per cent year on year in the first four months of 2024, the data showed, while profits at private groups rose 6.4 per cent and those at foreign businesses grew 16.7 per cent.

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Bowling Green home damaged during severe storm

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Bowling Green home damaged during severe storm

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – A line of tornado-warned storms moved through South Central Kentucky Sunday night, and one area of Bowling Green took the brunt of it.

Numerous downed trees and power outages were reported in the immediate aftermath, and one home on Allen Michael Lane suffered extensive damage.

When our crew arrived at the scene of the home that had damage, no one was there. There’s no known injuries at this time.

As of midnight, WRECC has 12,000 outages they’re working to restore, while BGMU has 8,000 powerless customers. Crews are working to get power back as soon as possible.

Stay with WBKO News on-air and on WBKO.com for the latest in the aftermath of Sunday’s severe storms.

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Dozens killed and wounded after explosions at Gaza ‘safe-zone’ camp

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Dozens killed and wounded after explosions at Gaza ‘safe-zone’ camp

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Explosions and fires ripped through a camp for displaced persons in Rafah late on Sunday after what authorities in Gaza said were Israeli air strikes.

Local health officials said at least 35 people had been killed and dozens more injured.

The Israeli military said it had struck a “Hamas compound” in Rafah at approximately the same time, but that it was looking into the specific incident at a UN-run “safe zone” in the city’s north-western Tal as-Sultan neighbourhood.

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It said two senior Hamas figures had been killed in its strike on Tal as-Sultan — naming them as Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar, two commanders responsible for the group’s militant operations in the West Bank. 

Palestinian eyewitnesses and videos on social media showed fires raging through makeshift tents while survivors tried in vain to extricate those caught in the flames.

Earlier in the day the Palestinian militant group fired long-range rockets at central Israel for the first time in months, including past Tel Aviv, in a demonstration of the capability it retains.

Eight rockets were fired from Rafah, less than a kilometre from advancing Israeli troops, in a move that Daniel Hagari, chief spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, attributed to Hamas’s fears for their weapons stocks.

Israeli officials have described Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, as the last stronghold for the group in the territory and earlier this month launched a major air and ground assault on the area.

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About 1.2mn people took shelter in Rafah from Israeli attacks elsewhere in the Gaza Strip after Hamas’s October 7 assault on Israel triggered the ongoing war.

At least 800,000 of those had already fled to areas north of Rafah as the Israeli offensive deepened in recent weeks, according to the UN.

They have travelled to places that are designated “safe zones” but which lack basic services such as clean water and medical care, according to international aid groups.

Egypt and Israel were in talks on Sunday to resume aid deliveries to Gaza via the strip’s southern Rafah crossing as Israel pressed on with its military operations in the area despite an order to halt from the International Court of Justice.

The ICJ on Friday described conditions for those Palestinians still sheltering in Rafah as “disastrous”.

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Israel has rejected the UN court’s call for it to cease military operations in Rafah. The bench also ordered Israel to reopen the Rafah crossing to Egypt for direly needed aid, as Gazans struggle with acute shortages of food and other necessities.

The humanitarian situation for Gazans has become a point of contention between Israel and its allies, including the US, as well as playing a role in the court’s decision to order Israel to take fresh interim measures.

On Sunday, the supply of aid from Egypt to Gaza resumed, but only via the separate Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel. Aid from Egypt had been halted for several weeks following Israel’s seizure of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing earlier this month, and Cairo’s angry reaction to the offensive.

More than 120 Egyptian aid trucks crossed via Kerem Shalom into Gaza on Sunday, said Israeli military officials, after US President Joe Biden spoke on Friday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in an attempt to ease tensions.

The White House said talks were ongoing to “reopen the Rafah crossing with arrangements acceptable to both Egypt and Israel”, a move that would require the tactical redeployment of IDF personnel in the area, said an Israeli official.

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Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, on Sunday said the situation in Gaza was “beyond words” as he spoke in Brussels alongside Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa.

The Israeli military claimed on Sunday that aid entering Gaza had doubled from the previous week, and that supplies had included 300,000 litres of fuel to run essential services at shelters and hospitals.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a halt to Israel’s offensive. He has also rebutted accusations of war crimes from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who last week requested arrest warrants against him and his defence minister.

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Netanyahu maintains that his country’s forces will pursue “total victory” against Hamas.

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Israeli forces have in recent days taken control of more than 70 per cent of Gaza’s frontier with Egypt, known as the Philadelphi corridor, and have pushed deeper into Rafah including the al-Shaboura refugee camp, according to Israeli military analysts.

Israeli officials insist military action in Rafah is needed to eliminate the last four standing Hamas battalions and sever the group’s access to smuggling routes from Egypt.

Israeli special forces have in recent weeks also retrieved the bodies of six hostages held by Hamas since October 7. According to Israeli officials, 125 Israeli and foreign nationals are still being held in Gaza, with 39 confirmed dead.

Negotiations for their release as part of a ceasefire deal tentatively resumed at the weekend in Paris as the head of Israel’s Mossad, David Barnea, met CIA chief Bill Burns and Qatar’s prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

Additional reporting by Henry Foy

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