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Frantic text after Baltimore bridge collapse confirms crew OK: ‘Yes sir, everyone is safe’

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The crew of the stranded container ship DALI have reported they are OK and awaiting rescue after the collision that caused a portion of the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore to collapse, according to a seafarers’ chaplain who took them shopping on Sunday.

Andrew Middleton said he took the ship’s captain and a crewman shopping at a nearby Walmart to buy personal items and snacks before their departure.

Since 9/11, international crews have to be escorted by a vetted person through most port areas, and Middleton said it’s fairly common for crews like the DALI’s to request assistance from the Apostleship of the Sea Baltimore Stella Maris International Seafarers’ Center, where he is the director. The group is part of the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Middleton woke up Tuesday morning to the shocking news the ship hit the bridge, and he immediately messaged one of the crewmen via WhatsApp.

“My question to him was, ‘Is everyone ok?’ And the answer was ‘yes sir, everyone is safe,'” Middleton told USA TODAY.

The crew is still aboard the ship while authorities assess the situation. Middleton said he’s prepared to send them any supplies they need, if they’re stuck aboard for an extended period. And he said he’s making plans to help them once they’re freed and returned to shore.

The container vessel was chartered by the major shipping company Maersk and was carrying its cargo, according to a statement from the company. When it crashed into the bridge, no Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel, which is operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group and owned by Singapore-based Grace Ocean Pte.

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The DALI was slated to arrive later this week in Sri Lanka, according to MarineTraffic, a global ship tracking service.

“We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected,” Maersk said in a statement. “We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed.”

Synergy Marine Corp said the DALI collided with one of the pillars of the bridge and that all its crew members, including two pilots, have been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries.

“They were by all appearances in good spirits,” Middleton said of the crew on Sunday, and they chatted in his van about the ship’s planned 28-day voyage around the Horn of Africa to Sri Lanka. Middleton said crews usually buy personal toiletries and snacks before long trips.

He said he expects the DALI will be towed back into the harbor and docked for a damage assessment. And he said he worries both about the missing workers from the bridge but also the port workers who may be temporarily unemployed if the harbor gets shut down.

“The people who were on the bridge we pray for them and their families, pray that everyone is rescued safely and alive,” he said. “Obviously, this incident has a large impact on the port community. If this extends a long period of time, we’re going to have longshoreman and stevedores who are not working, tugboat crews who are not working. It has the potential, if it becomes a drawn-out event, to affect many lives.”

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