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CNN International: Recovery Efforts Underway At Baltimore Key Bridge; Ship's "Black Box" Has Been Recovered From The Crashed Dali; Ship Operated By Singapore-Based Synergy Group; Hamas Calls On Donors To End "Offensive" Airdrops Into Gaza; Authorities Begin Releasing Victims' Bodies To Families; Russian Court Remands 7th Suspect On Terror Charges; U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Abortion Pill; Combs' Attorney: Raids A "Gross Overuse Of Military Level Force". Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 27, 2024 - 08:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: Hi, everyone and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Amara Walker. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Just ahead, U.S. officials say the black box from the cargo ship that struck a Baltimore bridge has been found. We'll have the very latest on the investigation what we know about those who are still missing.

Plus, when the desperate rush for aid turns deadly. Palestinians have drowned in a quest to reach air drop food that fell into the sea. A full report is coming up.

And a massacre that shocked the world. Hundreds of victims found in connection with Kenya's doomsday cult. Now the bodies are being released to the families.

We've just learned that crash investigators have been onboard that ship that smashed into Baltimore's Key Bridge on Tuesday causing it to collapse. They managed to go on board overnight and have taken the data recorder, the so-called black box to investigate what happened to cause the ship to lose control.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it is still looking for the bodies of six construction workers who were on that bridge, and they are presumed dead after falling into the water. The pilot of the ship and the police are being praised for acting quickly to stop traffic and prevent even -- an even greater loss of life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need one of you guys on the south side, one of you guys on the north side, hold all traffic on the Key Bridge. There's a ship approaching that just lost their steering. So until we get that under control, we've got to stop all traffic.


WALKER: Now, just minutes ago, CNN spoke to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation who told us how significant the bridge was to the economy and the community.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I can't even describe to you what it was like yesterday to stand at the water's edge, look up see the mass of wreckage of that bridge, a ship of basically as large as the span of the bridge itself. And then to see the rescuers and the first responders doing unbelievable work.

Some of them coming out of the water, after their shifts in cold water with barely any visibility trying to save lives. Just a shocking situation. Now, we're working toward getting things back to normal for the people of Baltimore. That means getting the bridge back up and getting the port back open. Neither one of those things will be simple.

BERMAN: There are reports from overnight that when this ship was in port, that there were problems with the power, even then people had noticed power issues even before it left the other day. How concerned are you that warning signs were missed?

BUTTIGIEG: So that's going to be part of what the Coast Guard and the NTSB are investigating by design. That investigation is independent, and I can't comment on it. What I will say is that the impact of this incident is going to be felt throughout the region and really throughout our supply chains.

We're talking about the biggest vehicle handling port in the country that is now out of commission until that channel can be cleared, and a bridge that took five years to build.


WALKER: And the impacts of that collapse is far reaching, obviously. Our colleague Gabe Cohen has more now on the situation at the scene. He sent this report just a short time ago.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a pretty quiet morning here as we know that search and recovery operation is expected to get going here pretty soon. We also know a couple of dozen investigators from the NTSB are here. Some of them will be boarding the Dali to begin this investigation really to start speaking with the crew and collect any recorders or electronics that they can get their hands on.

And as you mentioned, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that investigators are going to be looking at whether or not contaminated fuel inside the ship may have played a role in this, may have been a contributing factor to that near total blackout that the ship experienced just before the collision, losing control, losing operations really before hitting the column and sending that bridge into the river.

And look, it's going to be very difficult for the recovery crews that are out there because we are expecting rain, wind, choppy waters. So it's not going to be easy to find those six missing crew members. But today is really when this investigation gets going, John.

And as you mentioned, they're also concerned about potentially hazardous material that might have spilled out into the river from that ship when it collided with the bridge. And so, really, they're looking at a few different angles to this and it could be a tricky day and a very busy day for those investigators.



WALKER: A lot of challenges ahead, obviously.

Let's go live now to the scene and CNN's Michael Yoshida. Michael, first off, tell us where you are in relation to the scene of that bridge collapse. And you heard there from Gabe, he was focusing a lot on the investigation. Tell us where things stand in terms of the search.

MICHAEL YOSHIDA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, good morning, Amara. In terms of setting the scene where we are, we're just down from where this all happened. If you look over my left shoulder, you'll see the roadway and what remains of the bridge goes up into the air and just past there, that's where this collapse happened. That metal from the bridge, still in the water on top of that container ship and around it.

As we talk about this search, we did learn a short time ago, Maryland's governor confirming that those dive teams back in the water, obviously, difficult conditions that they'll be dealing with, as they resume this recovery process, trying to find and get those six individuals that were made in the water, trying to start that process of bringing closure to those families and to this community.

And as that process goes throughout the day, we'll also be watching the weather. I can tell you throughout the time we've been here this morning, we've had some light rain, continues to be overcast. There's potential concern for rain as the day goes on.

Also, we'll be dealing with those changing tides as well. So a lot for those crews both on the surface of the water, but also now below the water to deal with as they try again to go through that recovery process and try and bring some closure to this community.

WALKER: And Michael, we're also hearing about, you know, some damage containers that the U.S. Coast Guard is currently looking at up for potentially hazardous materials. In terms of the cleanup removal of the debris, what can we expect?

YOSHIDA: Yes, we do know Army Corps of Engineers, or the thousand individuals, they're going to be brought in to try and help speed up that process. As you can imagine, you know, we've seen the visuals that all of that bridge, all of that metal that sits on top of the containers, and that's in the water just blocking this water passage. So important to try and get that cleared up as quickly as we can to try and get some sort of passage there. Obviously, we've talked about how important this port is to the economy locally, but also regionally and to the U.S., ninth busiest ports here in the U.S. for international cargo. So a lot of work to do and trying to get that cleared and back open. But in terms of a timeline, the White House, other officials not yet ready to give the exact timeline for how soon we could see that cleared and then the rebuilding process started.

WALKER: Yes. All of it being a monumental task. Michael Yoshida, good to have you there on scene in Baltimore. Thank you very much.

So we're learning new details about at least three other deadly accidents involving synergy marine group. That is a group that manage the Dali cargo ship, you see here that crashed into the Key Bridge.

In 2018, in Australia, one person was killed in an accident involving the ship's elevator. Then a year later, in Singapore, an officer went missing after likely falling overboard. And then last year, in the Philippines, a sailor was killed when a tanker collided with a dredging ship.

Now, global trade relies on ships the size of the Dali to move goods to ports worldwide, but many of the bridges like the Francis Scott Key Bridge were built in the 1970s, about 50 years ago, when ships of this size simply didn't exist. Ivan Watson has more.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The container ship that slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge is a Singaporean owned and operated vessel called the Dali. It's just under 300 meters long, that's under 1,000 feet and had a crew of 21 Indian nationals on board at the time of the deadly accident.

For those of you who've never gotten close to one of these ships before, take a look over here. This is a container ship maybe 70 meters longer than the Dali moored here in the port of Hong Kong, stacked high with containers. The Dali's operators say that that vessel has a capacity of up to 10,000 containers like this, and it was carrying more than 4,700 at the time of the collision.

Now, the investigators they're going to be looking closely at the Dali's safety record. In September of last year, the U.S. Coast Guard inspected it, found no problems. But in June of 2023, authorities in Chile, they did find a problem aboard the Dali's. They said it was a deficiency involving propulsion and auxiliary machinery gauges and thermometers.

Why could that be important? Well, the Singaporean operating company, Synergy Marine, in its statement it says that the Dali's crew reported a momentary loss of propulsion shortly before the collision and where the ship lost control. That could be a link that investigators will look at.


I want to give you some more sense of scale here. Here's another container ship. It's about 100 meters longer than the Dali. The world's trade relies on ships like this, moving your goods to ports that ultimately you get those goods in your home. And right next to it is Hong Kong's Stonecutters Bridge.

Now these ships are operated by other companies not the same as the Dali, but it gives you a sense of the scale. The Francis Scott Key Bridge was constructed in the late 70s. And industry experts tell me that ships like this and the Dali simply did not exist when the key bridge was constructed. They were not building ships of this scale and size then and this may be a new reality that people have to come to grips with.

Case in point, just last month, up the Pearl River from where I am right now. There was another deadly collision involving a ship and a bridge. A ship hitting a bridge in the Chinese city of Guangzhou bringing down part of that bridge, at least five people dying as vehicles then plummeted off that span of bridge.

Chinese officials say that the crew was at fault for that deadly accident. It is potentially a new kind of threat and security issue that authorities around the world may have to come to grips with given what just happened in Baltimore.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in the port of Hong Kong.

WALKER: Ivan, thank you.

So we've learned divers are now back in the water after the sun has come up. They're now looking for the six missing people resuming that search.

CNN's Maria Santana is joining us now live from Baltimore. As we're learning more about the victims, just take a step back. Eight people were on that bridge when it fell. This is according to officials, and they were all believed to be working on mending potholes on the bridge. Two actually survived that fall. They were pulled from the river.

Six are now presumed to be dead. But, of course, these are people who have families, people who love them. What are you learning about the other six?

MARIA SANTANA, ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT FOR CNN EN ESPANOL: Yes, hi, how are you? Good morning, Amara. And this is when we really begin to understand and feel the magnitude of this tragedy when we begin to see the faces of the victims learn their stories, hear from their heartbroken family members waiting for any word about what happened to their loved one.

Where is the body? Are they going to be able to recover anything? This is what family members are asking themselves today. And here's what we know so far about the six people that are presumed dead by the authorities at this point. All six of them, according to officials and to some family members, are Latino.

We know that among them, they are citizens from Mexico, from Guatemala, from El Salvador and from Honduras and I was able to speak last night with Martin Suazo, he is the brother of a Maynor Yasir Suazo Sandoval, one of the workers that was on the bridge, working on maintenance at the moment of impact.

His brother told me that a family members desperately called him saying that his brother had gone missing. He is a father of two children, an 18-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl and that, you know, he came here to this country like many other immigrants do to get up -- have a better life, to live the American dream. And while he was working in construction, his brother told me that he was also starting his own business and that that was his dream to see his business grow.

Now we also know from a nonprofit organization here that works with working and immigrant families that Miguel Luna from El Salvador is also among the missing. He is also a father of three children. He has lived in Baltimore, has called the Baltimore home for 19 years.

And according to this organization, he left his house at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and hasn't returned since. The family, obviously, desperately waiting to hear from the authorities about the renewed search and recovery efforts that are starting again this morning.

This family, a hard working family, they also run a food truck, a Salvadorian food truck in their neighborhood. We went by there yesterday. And on the menu, one of the specials was El Migueleno (ph), named, it seems, after Miguel Luna.

The foreign ministry of Guatemala has says that -- said that two of their citizens, a 26-year-old and a 35-year-old are among the victims. And the Mexican embassy here in D.C. also confirmed to us that some Mexican nationals are among the victims, but they don't have an exact number yet of how many Mexicans are victims of this tragedy. Amara?


WALKER: It's just so heartbreaking to hear their stories, knowing that they came to the country searching for an improved life sending money back to their families. And, of course, the question next will be for these families. If these men were a financial lifeline to them, you know, how will they make ends meet?

SANTANA: Absolutely.

WALKER: Do you know what kind of assistance is being given to the families, Maria?

SANTANA: Well, yes, I spoke to the brother of another one of the victims and he said that they have been getting some assistance from local -- assistance from local and federal authorities here, specifically the FBI, the NTSB, the governor's office.

Sometimes they said they have felt a little frustrated because they feel that they are learning more from the media than from the actual authorities. But they are also getting help from their embassies and their -- the foreign ministry of their countries and the consulates and organizations here that work specifically with immigrant families. They do hope that, you know, they can be kept in the loop about what's happening with the search efforts and want to hear more from authorities about what is going on with the investigation and specifically with these efforts to try to recover their loved ones.

WALKER: All right. Maria Santana, really appreciate you bringing us that perspective and the side of the families. Thank you very much.

So later this hour, we're going to talk to a structural engineer who works closely with architects to design and manage bridges and buildings. Our conversation is coming up.

Well, right now, we are getting word that at least 11 people have been killed in Israeli strikes on the city of Rafah which is in southern Gaza. That is coming from Palestinian health officials who also say the overall Gaza death toll since the October 7th Hamas attacks is close to 32,500 people.

In Israel, more protests by the families of the hostages being held by Hamas have led to arrests. Two relatives of hostages were among a group of people who were detained Tuesday night during a demonstration outside the defense ministry in Tel Aviv. The protests erupted following media reports that an Israeli delegation was leaving the talks with Hamas in Qatar without a deal.

Hamas is now calling in overseas donors -- on overseas donors, I should say, to stop parachuting food aid into Gaza. The airdrops have become controversial and, in some cases, deadly. Palestinian paramedics say at least 12 people have drowned on Monday as they tried to retrieve eight parcels that fell into the sea.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more. But we do warn you, her story contains graphic images.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As they spot a plane and the aid begins to drop, they run as fast as they can. It's the rush of a people so desperate, so hungry, who would do anything to feed their children, now on the brink of starvation. This is what survival in Gaza has come to fighting for food, that little bit of aid that makes it into the north where manmade famine now looms.

People chase parachutes that fell into these choppy waters. It is desperation that drives them into the sea. What you're about to see next is disturbing. It's the reality of a war growing more cruel by the day. The fastest the fittest emerged with boxes of American issued meals ready to eat.

Others didn't make it out alive. People gather around the thin frail body of a man who drowned trying to reach that aid. 12 people drowned according to paramedics.

The parachutes fell into the water, Abu Hammad (ph) says people, but went to eat. They went into the water and drowned. The current was so strong. They didn't know how to swim. It's what you do when you have nothing left to lose.

Iman (ph) goes in swimming to get food for his children. He returns dead, this man says. Bring us aid through the land crossings. Our children are dying. We are dying. What are you doing? Where is the world?

The world has been piling up lifesaving aid into trucks stuck at land crossings, seemingly powerless in the face of Israel that's accused of using starvation as a weapon in this war. A charged it denies. Forcing the international community to resort to dropping aid from the sky.

Several countries carried out aid drops on this day, deliveries that have been criticized for being ineffective, insufficient, and unsafe.


Earlier this month, another air drop disaster when a parachute failed and aid packages came crashing down, killing at least five people. It's a war that's testing humanity. And many say this is what failure looks like.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


WALKER: Still to come, nearly a year after emerged that a doomsday cult in Kenya had encouraged hundreds of people to starve to death. The process of returning the victims' bodies to their families begins. We will have more.

Plus, an eighth suspect is charged with terrorism after the deadly attack on a concert hall near Moscow.


WALKER: Authorities in Kenya had begun handing over to families some of the bodies of the victims of a starvation cult. The bodies were exhumed from a mass grave and shock a whole a forest. The government says they were victims of a deadly Christian cult led by a pastor who convinced them to starve themselves to reach, excuse me, salvation.

Officials say that while many of them starved, others were bludgeoned to death. They add the process of returning the victims' bodies to their families will likely continue for weeks. The pastor and his associates were charged with murder in February. They have denied the charges.

Let's bring in CNN's David McKenzie who is following the story from Johannesburg. Extremely disturbing to say the least. What are you learning more about the scale of this?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the scale, Amara, is very hard to contemplate. Already more than 420 bodies have been recovered from that forest commune where this pastor lured followers in 2019 and into the pandemic saying that they would only reach salvation if they starve themselves to death. More than 190 of those victims are believed to be children.

You know, we were in this region last year reporting on the Shakahola massacre, as it's now called, Amara. And many people, of course, are absolutely bewildered about how this could have happened. There is emerging evidence that the authorities received multiple complaints, concerns from community members that this was going on, or at least something bad was happening in that forest and they ignored them and in some cases admonished those who brought the warnings to them.

This process will be going on for some time. Only 54 bodies have been matched by DNA with family members. That's because many family members, Amara, are too nervous or scared to go to the mortuary and try and get their bodies back of their family members.

We spoke to one man who we met again after we met him last year. He's relieved at least that there may be some closure.



FRANCIS WANJE, FAMILY MEMBER OF VICTIMS: That's been a very tough journey from last year up to now. A very tough one. Fortunately, I am saying I'm happy that I've got the loved ones. Now, we are preparing to go and bury so that now can start another journey of forgetting about this.


MCKENZIE: There still may be many, many more bodies found in that forest by forensic experts in the coming weeks. And it's certainly the worst incident of this kind in several decades, like globally. Amara?

WALKER: Yes, I'd imagine so. What more do we know about Pastor Mackenzie and his associates? Where is he and the case against them?

MCKENZIE: He's still in detention. And, you know, its scores of his leadership followers and those who enforced with deadly force, his rules and his prophecies are facing murder charges, as you mentioned. More than 190 counts of murder relating to the children who were stabbed and or killed, sometimes allegedly, by their own family members.

Now, this pastor was a televangelist of sorts. He was a former taxi drivers, had a ministry since at least 2003. But in recent years, up to the moment that he called on followers to go to this forest, he had preached the end of days, said people must take their children out of school. And this just escalated to this mass death and suicide.

There may be delays in the trial, they already have been delays in the proceedings. The government has apologized for the lack of action they took when the details of this started coming out. And as I said, it's still unclear the sheer scale of this death cult, and people are still trying to figure out just how this could happen relatively close to a major center in the coast of Kenya. Amara? WALKER: Just extraordinary details there. David McKenzie in Johannesburg. Thank you very much, David.

A Russian court has charged an eighth suspect with terrorism for his alleged role in the deadly attack on a concert hall near Moscow last Friday. Officials have ordered the suspect to be held in custody before his trial.

The state TV channel Russia 24 said investigators believe the suspect gave the attackers a place to stay and knew about the attack ahead of time. Let's get more now from CNN's Fred Pleitgen who's been following the story from Berlin. Fred, what are we learning?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Amara. Well, this is apparently a gentleman from Kyrgyzstan who allowed the attackers to stay at his flat or house outside of Moscow. We're not sure whether or not they rented space there or whether or not they were staying there free of charge.

But the important thing that we heard from that court in Moscow today is they were saying they believe that this person had prior knowledge of the plot. And that's obviously something that they are now trying to prove. And that's why he's being remanded in detention.

So, so far, what we have is we have several suspects who are in custody from Tajikistan, one from Russia, and now from Kyrgyzstan as well. We don't have so far as anybody in custody from Ukraine, which hasn't stopped the Russians, specifically, the Russian president, from continuing his narrative saying that he believes that there is some sort of link to Ukraine, even though he has now acknowledged that it was radical Islamist, as he put it, who the Russians believe were behind this plot, even though the Russians are not using the term ISIS yet.

It's been quite interesting to see over the sort of past 24 hours. Where on the one hand, you had an ally of Vladimir Putin, Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko come out and say that he believed or seemed to believe that the attackers were trying to head towards Belarus, but the border was closed, and only then did they decide to try and go to Ukraine.

Whereas, you have some hardliners who are very close to Vladimir Putin, specifically, the chief of his intelligence service, the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, who came out and he said he strongly believes that there is a link to Ukraine and even implicates Western intelligence services.

So far, there is no evidence of any of that. We, of course, know that ISIS is claiming responsibility, has done so on several occasions and in several ways. And, of course, the Ukrainians are saying that they have absolutely nothing to do with any of it. Amara?

WALKER: Frederik Pleitgen in Berlin, thank you very much.

Still to come, I'll talk to an engineer about the physics of the Baltimore bridge collapsed. And was there anything that could have been done to change the outcome?

Plus, a look at some of the worst bridge disasters in U.S. history.



WALKER: We are tracking developments in Baltimore where divers have resumed the search for the six missing people. Maryland's governor says the divers are dealing with a treacherous situation including frigid temperatures and mangled metal in the water.

Yesterday, a large cargo ship collided with the city's Francis Scott Key Bridge. Investigators have confirmed to CNN that the vessels data recorder has now been recovered and it is being examined. They also confirmed that officials boarded the ship for the first time overnight to gather initial evidence.

NTSB Chief Jennifer Homendy spoke to my colleague John Berman earlier.


JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORT SAFETY BOARD: We did have some investigators who boarded late last night to begin to look at the engine room, the bridge, and gather any sort of electronics or documentation. But really it was very late. And so we are returning today to continue that work and to also have our highway team on board to begin to look at the structure.

BERMAN: I didn't realize, investigators were able to get on overnight. At this early stage, what was obtained, what was learned?

HOMENDY: Yes. So right now, we do have the data recorder, which is essentially the black box. We've sent that back to our lab to evaluate and begin to develop a timeline of events that led up to the strike on the bridge. And we hope to have that information to share with the public later today.

BERMAN: So later today, we should have information from the black box. Look, everyone has now seen the video of the power flickering on this vessel, not long before it hit the pylon that ultimately took down the bridge. You can see right now on the Dali, the lights completely out in the video that I'm showing right now. What have you learned about what caused the power outage?

HOMENDY: Well, right now, our work on scene and we have a team of 24 investigators, various specialties. They are focused on collecting the perishable evidence. That is all the documentation including pictures and components that we may need on the vessel or amongst the structure to begin to conduct our investigation.

With regard to analysis and really looking at the documents and digging into inspections and what occurred leading up to the striking, that will take a longer amount of time. Right now, it's getting what would disappear once this is cleaned up and that is the focus.

BERMAN: Understood.

HOMENDY: We are also spending part of the day beginning to do our interviews.

BERMAN: Have they begun yet the interviews of people on board the vessel?

HOMENDY: They will begin later today. With respect to those on the vessel, we'll also interview Fire and Rescue and people that were on the bridge as well.



WALKER: The investigation very much underway. Let's get a different perspective now from David Knight, who is a structural engineer specializing in bridges and moving structures. You're the perfect person to talk to you this morning. David, welcome.

First off, when you look at the video, when you know the history of this bridge, that it was built about 50 years ago, the construction happened between 1972 and 1977, according to the state's government website, could anything have been done to prevent the collapse of this bridge, knowing just how large this vessel is?

DAVID KNIGHT, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: I think that's the first thing to say and it clearly hasn't managed to resist the impact of this huge vessel. And it is very unlikely that it would have been able to, without adequate ship, impact protection. Bridges that we have designed since 1970s and 1980s, and learned a lot from a couple of collapses that happened in the early 1980s, leading to improvements in our understanding of ship impact. And therefore, the design of protection measures, which are now standard on bridges of this scale around the world.

WALKER: Are these impact protection blocks or measures taken retroactively typically for these older bridges?

KNIGHT: They can be. Yes, it is up to the bridge owner to undertake risk assessments of their -- the shipping around their bridges, thinking about navigation, thinking about changes that will have happened since the bridge has been designed. And it is possible and it does happen that these are retroactively applied around fragile elements of a bridge, such as the supports in this case.

WALKER: You know, what stuck out to me looking at the video just all day yesterday, and then today, you know, you see this gaping hole in the middle of the river there, right, and where the bridge collapsed. And so you have two sides of the bridge which are, you know, really thoroughfares that feed into an interstate that are still standing.

What are your, I guess, assumptions or thoughts about the integrity of the rest of the bridge?

KNIGHT: It will need to be carefully assessed by structural engineers and teams who have knowledge of the bridge. And what is likely is that the intermediate steel element, the long span that we saw, collapsing and its adjacent spans is structurally separate from the approach structures which are likely to be concrete, and there will be a joint and we've seen that the parts of the bridge that failed, came away at that joint.

And that structural separation will limit the amount of damage that happens to the approach structures. However, there is likely to be local damage. This was quite a severe incident. And you can imagine the sheer tonnage of steel that was moving and at speeds that will have damaged locally, that joints and engineers will inspect and assess the rest of that structure for its capability.

WALKER: Just, you know, on the note of -- and the question of, you know, if this could happen again, if another large container ship like this one or even larger, were to smash into another bridge, really anywhere in the world. But right now we're talking about the United States.

You say -- and you were just mentioning that modern bridges are now being built with ship impact in mind. But I would imagine at least when it comes to U.S. infrastructure, a lot of these bridges were built, you know, many, many years ago, not many new ones are being built today, correct? So the ship impact must be a major concern still.

KNIGHT: Absolutely. And as I say, many bridge owners are proactive about taking measures to protect their fragile assets against ship impact. And so they will be -- I'm sure all bridge owners around the world are now quickly reassessing whether the measures that they have in place are adequate.

But I'd expect many places do have adequate ship impact protection measures be that natural shallowing of the water near the piers (ph), energy absorption measures that limits the speed of the ship. But I think it's fair to say that this is a very extreme event with an extraordinarily large ship impacting that speed. And in retrospect, it is no surprise that such severe damage has happened in this case.

WALKER: Well, obviously, the impact, right, is just far reaching of course to the families but also when it comes to the local and, you know, U.S. economy because you have this being the ninth biggest U.S. port for international cargo.


As I understand, Baltimore is a major hub for vehicles. So we're obviously going to be talking about major delays here in the supply chain as a result. My question to you is the timing of when the traffic will be able to flow again through this channel, because as you can see, these big pieces of metal, they're going to have to be cleaned up. What does that recovery process or cleaning up process going to look like? And how long will that potentially take?

KNIGHT: I can't comment with any accuracy on the amount of time but it will not be a short process. These are very, very large and heavy pieces of steel working concrete that have fallen onto the seabed. And there will be a process of assessing the safety of the remaining pieces for anybody who goes and accesses them and assesses them.

They will then be cut up, probably using divers and all remote access, cutting equipment and gradually lifted and removed out of the way to enable shipping to recommence along this corridor. But that is a long process. And I reiterate that it has to be done safely.

I mean, this is not an understood or designed condition. So knowing how stable everything is in the water, as you remove elements will be a really critical part of the ongoing work to stabilize and then allow navigation in the future.

WALKER: Yes, sounds like it's going to be a very dangerous task.

David Knight, we really appreciate your perspective. Thank you.

There have been a number of deadly bridge collapses throughout the U.S. in years, some due to structural failures, others due to collisions or accidents.

Jason Carroll shows us some of the worst accidents in U.S. history.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators still in the early stages of piecing together the events that led to the collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge. Already, comparisons being made to pass deadly disasters involving America's bridges.

I-40 Bridge, Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, May 2002. Fourteen people killed, nearly a dozen hurt after freight barge is being transported on the Arkansas River struck a pier supporting the bridge. A 580-foot section of road collapsed sending vehicles careening into the water.

Queen Isabella Causeway, Port Isabel, Texas, September 2001. Eight people lost their lives when a tugboat and barge struck the causeway. Eleven people drove into the opening below, only three survived.

Big Bayou Canot, Near Mobile, Alabama, September 1993. Forty-seven people died and more than 100 injured in what was seen at the time is one of the worst disasters of its kind in the United States. It happened after barges being pushed by a tow boat in dense fog hit the bridge causing an Amtrak train carrying 220 people to derail minutes later. Rescue crews pulled victims from the partially submerged buckled train cars.

CHLOE DEMROVSKY, FEMA NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL: We are so bad at learning from our mistakes and preparing for future instances. We need to assess our infrastructure.

CARROLL (voice-over): Collusions, not the only cause of tragic bridge collapses. Take what happened at the FIU Footbridge, Miami, Florida, March 2018. Six people were killed after a pedestrian bridge near the campus of Florida International University suddenly collapsed. The 170-foot long newly installed bridge had been under construction.

I-35 W Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007. Thirteen killed, 145 injured, a major interstate at a standstill after the 35 West Bridge collapsed during rush hour. Federal regulators blame the accident partly on support plates, which they said were half as thick as they should have been.

Hyatt Regency Skywalks, Kansas City, Missouri, July 1981. 114 were killed when the walkways on the second and fourth floor of a Hyatt Regency Hotel collapse due to a design flaw. It was known as one of the most devastating structural failures in U.S. history.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


WALKER: Incredible look back. Jason, thank you.

Still to come, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a case involving an abortion drug that could have far-reaching implications for women's reproductive rights. We will hear some of the key questions the justices had next.



WALKER: Another major abortion decision is looming for the U.S. Supreme Court after hearing arguments in a case over access to the medication abortion pill mifepristone. It is the primary drug used for medication abortions. And while a ruling isn't expected for months until June or July, a major of justices already appear skeptical of a nationwide ban or new limits on the pill.

CNN's Paula Reid has more from Washington.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of protesters gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court as the justices considered the most significant abortion case simply overturn Roe v Wade.

This case focuses on expanded access to mifepristone, one of two drugs typically used in the process known as medication abortion, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of abortions in the U.S. But during Tuesday's arguments, a majority of the justices appeared likely to maintain the expanded access to the drug, which was first approved by the FDA in 2000.

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: We've had, one might call it a rash, of universal injunctions or vacatures. And this case seems like a prime example of turning what could be a small lawsuit into a nationwide legislative assembly on an FDA rule or any other federal government action. REID (voice-over): Shortly after Roe was overturned, a conservative group of anti-abortion doctors and advocates sued the FDA over its approval of mifepristone, and the case now focuses on FDA approval of expanded access to the drug.


ALL: No.

REID (voice-over): But during the hearing, justices from across the ideological spectrum pressed the group challenging the drug as to whether it had standing or the right to bring the case, asking their lawyer about what harm the group faced.

ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: May I ask, Ms. Hawley, about your basic theory of standing? I mean, you're just saying even FDA admits that there are going to be some adverse events, people are going to show up in emergency rooms, people are going to come face-to-face with one of our doctors who objects to some aspect of the treatment.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: Just to confirm on the standing issue, under federal law, no doctors can be forced against their consciences to perform or assist in an abortion, correct?

REID (voice-over): And Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson pressed on why the group believes restricting everyone's access to the drug is necessary given that doctors can raise religious objections under federal law.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: I mean, it makes perfect sense for the individual doctors to seek an exemption. But as I understand it, they already have that. And so what they're asking for here is that, in order to prevent them from possibly ever having to do these kinds of procedures, everyone else should be prevented from getting access to this medication. So, why isn't that plainly overbroad scope of the remedy the end of this case?



REID (on-camera): We expect this decision to come in late June which will of course be the heart of the presidential campaign season. Now, whatever the justices designed here could potentially be a factor in that critical race. Since Roe was overturned, the Democrats have used the abortion issue to galvanize other supporters.

Whereas former President Trump, who has taken credit for Roe being overturned, has also said, look, when it comes to Republicans, there needs to be some concessions on this issue because, quote, "we need to win elections."

Paul Reid CNN, Washington. WALKER: Still to come, rap mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs is fighting back after U.S. federal agents raided his homes. The latest on the investigation.


WALKER: Rap mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs was headed for a spring break vacation with his twin daughters when he was briefly stopped by authorities in Miami on Monday. That's according to a source close to Combs. U.S. Homeland Security agents raided Diddy's homes in Los Angeles and Miami as part of a human trafficking investigation. Combs' lawyers call the raids a gross overuse of military level force.

CNN Entertainment Correspondent Elizabeth Wagmeister is standing by for us in Los Angeles. This has been quite a story that many have been following. What more do we know about what Sean "Diddy" Combs is being accused of that triggered these rates?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Amara. So Sean "Diddy" Combs is facing five lawsuits with very serious allegations. Now, these are all civil lawsuits. Nothing has risen to a criminal level yet. But, of course, this investigation launched by the Department of Homeland Security and the department that specifically looks into human trafficking leads us to believe that there is something that they are looking into that was triggered by these five lawsuits.

Now the first lawsuit came from the singer Cassie, back in November of 2023. Cassie and Diddy were in a long-term relationship. But when she came out with this lawsuit, she said that she suffered a decade of abuse by Diddy she has accused him of rape, sex trafficking, human trafficking.

Now that lawsuit was quickly settled about overnight, but soon after, two more women came forward to accuse Sean "Diddy" Combs. And now again, there are five lawsuits that he is facing, including one from a woman who alleges that when she was 17 years old in 2003, that she was drugged by Diddy in gang rape.

So Diddy is maintaining his innocence. His attorney is fighting back with these raids at his homes in Los Angeles and in Miami. But again, these are very serious allegations that he is facing.

WALKER: Yes, a stunning allegations. Have we heard anything from Sean "Diddy" Combs himself or from his lawyers?

WAGMEISTER: Sean "Diddy" Combs has not spoken out since these raids. He did speak out in December saying that these are attacks on his reputation and that he will clear his name. But yesterday, we were first to hear from his attorney and this is what they tell us, Amara.

I want to read you some of the quote. They say, quote, "Yesterday, there was a gross overuse of military-level force as search warrants were executed at Mr. Combs' residences. There is no excuse for the excessive show of force and hostility exhibited by authorities or the way his children and employees were treated." [08:55:06]

Now they say that despite media speculation, neither Mr. Combs nor any of his family members have been arrested, nor has their ability to travel been restricted in any way. Now this is a lengthy statement, but they ended by saying, "Mr. Combs is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name." They also call this a witch hunt.

And I have spoken to sources close to Diddy, who say they believe that the media was tipped off in Los Angeles that his home was going to be raided. They say that there was a local news chopper hovering over his mansion in the air before there was a breach on his home. So they are calling this a witch hunt and they believe it was a coordinated media effort.

And I hear that Diddy's team was shocked by the scope of this raid. His two sons were taken out in handcuffs. And as we said Diddy was traveling with his two teenage daughters out of Miami on a spring break vacation. That is what I hear from a source and that is when he was briefly stopped by authorities at an airport in Miami and I hear that he cooperated with them and then was released.

WALKER: Well, those words witch hunt, and this being allegedly coordinated with the media sounds strikingly similar to some of the political rhetoric we've been hearing looking towards the presidential election.

Elizabeth Wagmeister, thank you so much.

And thank you for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Amara Walker. "CONNECT THE WORLD" with Eleni Giokos is up next.