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The Dali ship crew remains on board after hitting the Baltimore bridge


Days after the Dali lost power and hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, the crew remains on the massive cargo ship stuck in the middle of Baltimore’s harbor. Here’s what we know about the people on board and their condition.

Who are the people still on the ship?

There are 21 sailors on the Dali — 20 of whom are from India — said Shri Randhir Jaiswal, a spokesman for the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday. About 316,000 Indians work as seafarers, nearly 20 percent of the global total, according to data published by India’s Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. The two pilots are also still on the ship, a spokeswoman for the Key Bridge Joint Information Center said. That “unified command” is handling outreach for federal and state agencies involved in the disaster, as well as the company that manages the Dali.

Ship companies often look to India, as well as the Philippines and Indonesia, for trained seafarers who will work for lower salaries than American or European crews. Companies have also been shrinking their onboard staff even as cargo ships grow in size, experts say, as more tasks are automated.

“The first ship I was on was 42 people — it’s literally cut in half,” said David Ledoux, a consultant and retired ship captain who started seafaring in 1984. That ship was about a third of the size of the Dali as well, he said.

There are seven other ships in the harbor whose crews remain on board, the Rev. Joshua Messick told USA Today. He said his group, the Baltimore International Seafarers’ Center, had visited each ship to see if anyone needed to be transported to land.

Jaiswal said one crew member was injured in the collision and had to be taken off the ship to receive stitches. Now, he said, “All of them are in good shape, good health.”

Andrew Middleton, the director of a ministry in Dundalk, Md., said he had been in touch with members aboard the ship Friday morning. He said they had requested WiFi and new SIM cards to communicate with family back home. Middleton’s Apostleship of the Sea is now coordinating with local ministries and companies, and plans to deliver some of those items Saturday.

Before the crash, Middleton had taken some of the crew members shopping in Dundalk. He said the men were prepared for a month-long trip to Sri Lanka with food and other essentials.

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters that when she boarded the ship Wednesday, a cook was in the kitchen, making a meal. “It smelled very good, and I was very hungry,” she said.

Will the crew be moved off the boat?

Not yet, according to the Key Bridge unified command. In a statement Friday, authorities said they “do not have a plan for getting the crewmembers of the Dali off the vessel.” Instead, unless safety concerns change, the crew “will most likely disembark when the boat is moved or taken out of the water.”

At a news conference Friday, officials said moving the ship was a second priority, after reopening the shipping lane in and out of the Port of Baltimore. Ledoux said moving the ship would require a damage assessment once the bridge parts are removed, including divers checking for damage underwater, and then clearance from authorities to tug the boat.

Crews will need shore passes from U.S. Customs and Border Protection if they leave the boat and come ashore into the United States, Middleton said. A spokesperson for the bureau did not immediately return a request for comment on whether the entire Dali crew had been cleared to go on shore.

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