Collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge detonated to help free ship from Port of Baltimore

Crews used carefully placed explosives on Monday to break apart a large span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland and send the mangled metal crashing into the water below.

Video of the demolition showed the explosives detonating, with flashes of fire followed by a loud boom and a black plume of smoke.

The steel truss then broke apart, falling away from the grounded Dali container ship, and into the water. As the metal crashed into the Patapsco River, a big wave of water crashed onto the bow of the ship.

Although it is not known whether the ship has been freed from the mangled mess, detonating the largest remaining section sitting across its bow is a major step.

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The Dali has been stuck in the wreckage since March 26, when it lost power and crashed into a support column underneath the Key Bridge.

The catastrophe killed six construction workers and put a freeze on most maritime traffic in and out of Baltimore’s busy port.

Freeing the ship from the bridge debris will ultimately lead to the Dali being refloated before moving it out of the way to restore traffic through the port. Once opened back up, thousands of dockworkers, truckers and business owners should see relief as business slowly returns.

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According to officials, the detonation of explosives went as planned. Now, crews will assess the remaining pieces of bridge on the container ship’s bow then ensure anything underwater is not preventing the ship from being floated and moved out of the area.

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

Officials still expect to refloat the ship within the next few days.

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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, adding she did not expect any other explosives to be used in the process.

The 21-member crew of the Dali has not been able to leave the ship since the disaster on March 26. In fact, the crew members remained on the ship during Monday’s detonation and were reported safe without injuries after the event.

The National Transportation Safety Board and FBI are investigating what led to the bridge collapse.

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Before the crash occurred, the crew of the Dali sent out a mayday call reporting they lost power and did not have control of the ship’s steering system. Minutes later, the ship struck a bridge support, sending the structure crashing down.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.