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FBI has seized cellphones of Indian crew onboard Dali as part of probe: Non-profit organisation – Times of India



NEW DELHI: The FBI has allegedly seized the cellphones of the mostly Indian crew on board a crippled cargo ship in Baltimore as part of the investigation into the deadly bridge accident, a non-profit organisation in touch with the personnel said.
The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a 2.6-km-long, four-lane structure spanning the Patapsco River, collapsed on March 26 after being struck by the 984-foot ship ‘Dali‘.
The crew, comprising 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan, has remained on the ship since the incident, cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
The Rev. Joshua Messick, executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre, told PTI that he is working with all of the relevant organisations to make sure the crew has what they need and that their rights are being upheld.
“They are well cared for with the sole exception that their cellphones were seized as part of the FBI’s investigation and have not been returned,” he said.
Messick is in contact with the crew to purchase SIM cards for them and to plan shore leave when possible.
‘They are heroes’
The Reverend also talked to local media channels about the situation of the crew, and told CBS News Baltimore that the ship’s personnel were “unsure how the rest of the world sees them”. “It is important for me to share with them that they are not criminalised. In my view, they are heroes,” he added.

While urging the FBI to return the phones of the crew, Rev. Messick said it was heartbreaking when “little pieces of humanity have been stripped away”.
Following the bridge collapse, which claimed the lives of six construction crew workers who were repairing potholes on the bridge at the time of the collision, US authorities initiated a criminal investigation into the incident.
The Washington Post reported that the FBI’s probe will examine, at least in part, whether the crew left the port knowing the vessel had serious systems problems.
Demolition postponed
Meanwhile. the controlled demolition of the largest remaining steel span of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore was postponed due to weather conditions.
Crews have been preparing for weeks to use explosives to break down the span, which is an estimated 500 feet (152 meters) long and weighs up to 600 tons (544 metric tons).
It landed on the ship’s bow after the Dali lost power and crashed into one of the bridge’s support columns shortly after leaving Baltimore. Since then, the ship has been stuck amidst the wreckage and Baltimore’s busy port has been closed to most maritime traffic.
Officials said the demolition had been tentatively moved to Monday evening (Tuesday morning IST).
The Dali’s 21-member crew will stay onboard the ship while the explosives are detonated.
The Baltimore International Seafarers’ Centre is a non-profit organisation serving seafarers that call on the Port of Baltimore from all over the world. The mission of the organisation is to “facilitate the well-being of crew members by offering transportation ashore,” according to information on its website.
(With inputs from PTI, agencies)

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