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One World with Zain Asher

Cargo Ship Crashes Into Francis Scott Key Bridge Causing It To Collapse; President Biden Holds A Press Conference On The Baltimore Bridge Collapse. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 26, 2024 - 12:00   ET



VOICE-OVER: This is CNN Breaking News.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right, coming to you live from New York, I'm Zain Asher. My colleague, Bianna Golodryga is off today. You are

indeed watching "One World". I want to begin in Baltimore with a search and rescue operation underway as I speak right now in the waters of the Patasco

River. After a major bridge was hit by a ship, look at that, major bridge hit by a ship and then collapsed straight into the water, sending several

cars, by the way, also plunging into the water, as well.

The massive cargo ship you see there called Dali apparently -- apparently lost power and then drifted into the support structure of the Francis Scott

Key Bridge at about 1:30 local time in the early hours of this morning.


UNKNOWN: Be advised, the entire bridge, the entire Key Bridge is in the harbor. I advise again, the entire Key Bridge has fallen into the harbor.


ASHER: Certainly not words you hear every day. Officials say the ship dropped an anchor as part of emergency procedures right before the impact.

We know that at least six people -- at least six people at this point in time are believed to be missing.

As I mentioned, the search and rescue operation is ongoing, but Maryland's governor says that quick thinking and a warning from the ship actually

prevented an even worse tragedy.


WES MOORE, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: We had a ship that was coming in at eight knots, so coming in at a very rapid speed. I have to say I'm thankful for

the folks who, once the warning came up and once notification came up that there was a mayday, who literally by being able to stop cars from coming

over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives last night.


ASHER: We have reporters and experts covering this story throughout the hour for you. I want to start with CNN's Kristin Fisher, who is on the

scene there in Baltimore. Kristen, what is the latest at this point in time?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, right now this is still very much a search and rescue operation. Officials believe there are six people

missing, presumed to be in the water just behind me over here where you can see this massive container ship that has plowed through the key bridge just

outside of Baltimore.

Now, those six missing people are all believed to be part of a construction crew that was working on the bridge at the time of the collapse. This

construction crew wasn't doing anything with the structural integrity of the bridge. They were filling some potholes at the time, but right now that

is what state and local officials are focused on, getting divers in the water and hopefully finding those people.

But remember, Zain, it's been more than 10 hours that they would likely have been in the water now, so cold temperatures in the water, the search

and rescue operation becoming more dire by the minute. But then if you zoom out a bit, the other big questions here, Zain, are, you know, what exactly


And at a news conference about two hours ago, the governor of Maryland said that all signs point to the fact that this was just a terrible accident,

absolutely no indications of any sort of terrorism or that this was a deliberate act. They're calling it an accident. And so what happened?

Well, our first indication that there was perhaps some kind of power issue was you could see those lights flickering on the container ship itself, the

governor then later confirming that the crew on board the ship notified authorities of a power issue shortly before making impact. So that is what

people, investigators, are investigating right now as one potential cause, but still so many questions.

And, of course, this is going to have a huge impact on the entire Baltimore area because, Zain, you know, this is a huge freeway, essentially, a

highway, part of the beltway that goes around Baltimore, a four-lane road. It is now totally in the water, really impacting the flow of traffic in the

city, but also the port.

This is one of the busiest ports in the United States, and now there is no traffic going in or out of Baltimore Harbor. So, this could have some real

economic implications, as well, for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. But, of course, right now the focus entirely on trying to find

these six missing construction workers, Zain.


ASHER: It's been almost 12 hours -- 12 hours since the tragedy happened, and so obviously rescue crews are up against a lot. Kristin Fisher, live

for us there, thank you so much. And joining us live now is David McFarlane. He was a ship captain for many years until leaving the seas to

FOUND, a maritime risk and safety consultancy firm.

David, thank you so much for being with us. I'm not sure if you heard our Kristin Fisher speaking there, but she was basically saying, listen, the

big question at this point in time is what exactly happened? What exactly went wrong here? I mean, you think about the fact that, I mean, people have

been playing, obviously, the video leading up to the impact over and over again, trying to sort of pass through it for clues.

We know that the ship's light flickered on and off more than once, right? More than once, and then it appeared to veer off course. You look at this

video, you look at those two things happening, and you think, what? What sort of information can we hope to glean from that?

DAVID MCFARLANE, DIRECTOR, MARITIME RISK AND SAFETY CONSULTANTS LTD.: At this stage, it really is just speculation, but it does appear that the ship

has had what is known as a blackout. Now, a blackout can occur because perhaps one of the generators on board the ship has failed for one reason

or another, and the second generator has tripped out an overload.

There are failsafe mechanisms on board the vessels to counteract that, and it appears to have worked here. The ship regained power, but unfortunately

in such a narrow channel and with such a narrow target as the bridge. It was just too little, too late.

ASHER: And as you point out, obviously, of course, I want to underscore this to the audience, that this is just speculation. Of course, at this

point in time, it is too early to know what exactly happened. I should point out that we are waiting for a press conference. It's set to start any

moment now from the National Transportation and Safety Board. It was set to start about five minutes ago. We are waiting for that.

But you point out the fact that it could have been, right? It could have been a blackout. Would a blackout alone, with the ship losing power alone,

be able to at least partially explain this kind of impact, this kind of tragedy here?

MCFARLANE: Yes. The ship needs propulsion to move forward. Excuse me. It also needs to steer, and to be able to steer correctly, it has to have a

good flow of water past the propeller and over the rudder to enable it to steer. Now, as soon as the propeller stops, which would be the case in a

blackout, your steerage is going to be affected.

And in the time that it takes to regain power back again, the ship could easily veer off course, as it appears to have happened here. And just in,

you know, 30 seconds is all it takes for a ship that's close on 100,000 tons, a thousand feet long. That's all it takes for a ship to sort of

gently veer off course and unfortunately hitting the inevitable pier that is the bridge.

ASHER: What does an investigation, I mean, obviously you are a maritime expert. What does an investigation into a tragedy of this magnitude look

like? Obviously, the first port of call will be, of course, interviewing the pilots, the captain of the ship, the crew members. That, I imagine, is

probably the first thing that authorities are going to be doing. But beyond that, what are the key aspects of actually piecing together what went wrong


MCFARLANE: As you say, the interviews, the interview process is key to all of this. There will be a paper chase, as well. Similar to aircraft, ships

have to complete checklists before they depart. You've got checklists for the wheelhouse or the bridge team. I don't want to confuse the term bridge

here. When I say bridge, I mean the wheelhouse on the ship.

The engine room will have a checklist. There will be checklists and exchanges between the master and the pilot. There will be a notification of

any defects that are known. So, all these checks will be in place and should have been done. And there will be a paper trail to see that that has

been done.

The other main and crucial piece of evidence is what we call the VDR, which is the Voyage Data Recorder and that's similar to an aircraft's black box.

Depending on the type of VDR, you'll have voice. It may have video. It certainly will have interfaces between the engine room and the bridge.


And will also have interfaces with all the electronic navigation equipment, along with the VHF radios, et cetera.

ASHER: And that's such a key point because whenever there is an airplane tragedy, the key -- the real key lies with the black boxes. And so, there

is an equivalent, as you point out, in the maritime industry, a VDR and that is going to be crucial, as well.

We know that the ship dropped anchor. Again, you know, obviously, this is just speculation, but it appeared to be a blackout and then, obviously, the

ship veered off course. We know that the ship dropped anchor as part of emergency procedures. Can you explain to our audience what that actually

means and what that would actually do?

MCFARLANE: Yeah, I think that was probably a knee-jerk reaction from the ship's master and or the pilot. And it is a standard procedure when you're

running out of control. Drop your anchors to try and stop the ship. But a ship that has got that much momentum, weighing 100,000 tons, doing eight

knots, which is well over 10 miles an hour, the dropping of an anchor will make absolutely no difference at all. And in fact, the chances are you'll

rip the anchor out of its housing within the ship at that speed.

ASHER: So, likely a knee-jerk reaction as they desperately try to gain some control back after potentially, again, I don't know for sure, potentially

losing power and there being a blackout. David, we have to leave it there, but thank you so much for joining us.

All right, nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reproductive rights are back on the docket. The case centers on

Mifepristone, a pill used in most medication abortions. These make up nearly two-thirds of abortions in the United States, and their numbers have

actually been increasing.

Earlier, the court heard arguments that the FDA essentially overstepped its authority by making it easier for women to get the drug. This includes

allowing it to be prescribed by telemedicine, delivered in the mail and used up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Prior to the case, Mifepristone had been used for decades and is still widely seen as very safe and highly effective. Joining us live now is CNN

Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider. She joins us live now. The big question, when you're just sort of listening to the arguments here, the big

question, Jessica, is whether or not these anti-abortion doctors actually had the standing, whether they had the authority to actually bring this

case before the court. Just walk us through that.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER; CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and Zain, that question made up the majority of these 90 minutes of oral arguments. And it did

appear that a majority of the justices here had skepticism that the doctors in this case even had the standing or the authority to bring this lawsuit,

because in order to bring a lawsuit, you have to have actual injury.

The doctors in this case claim that their injury is that perhaps a woman who takes Mifepristone, and if there is some complication, she might

present to them in the emergency room, and then these doctors who disagree with abortion might have to treat her. There's a lot of mights in there and

a lot of maybes. And that's what the justices seem to have a big problem with, is that the doctors bringing this lawsuit just didn't have the

concrete injury to allow them to bring the lawsuit.

So, on that basis, there's the possibility that the Supreme Court might actually toss this whole case out. That probably won't stop the plight of

these anti-abortion doctors and other anti-abortion groups, but it would potentially end this case for now.

However, if the Supreme Court does conclude that the doctors have the right to bring this lawsuit, then the Supreme Court would have to answer the next

question the doctors brought, which was, did the FDA follow the proper procedures when they eased some of the restrictions on this drug in 2016

and 2021? And that made this drug more available to women up to 10 weeks of pregnancy instead of the previous seven.

It also didn't need to be prescribed by a doctor. It could be prescribed by a nurse practitioner, and then it also could be delivered via the mail. So,

this is a big flashpoint for the Supreme Court, yet again, two years after they overturned Roe v. Wade. Zain.

You know, they presumably, they wanted to hand the power of abortion rights back to the states and not have it be a federal issue. But instead, we've

seen really a splintering of cases, a patchwork of laws throughout the country. And this case just shows that the abortion debate is not over. It

continues to be hammered out in courts.

You know, the lower courts in this case said that the FDA acted wrongly in making some of these changes to the abortion pill. We'll see if the Supreme

Court upholds that, but it does seem like the Supreme Court won't uphold that.


And they'll probably rule that the doctors did not even have the power to bring this lawsuit in the first place. Arguments were about 90 minutes

today, but we don't expect a ruling, Zain, until likely, June. The Supreme Court wraps up its term typically at the end of June, just before July. So,

that's probably when we'll see a ruling in this case.

ASHER: All right. So, we still have a couple of months before we get a ruling.


ASHER: But just in terms of the hearing and the arguments today, did the justices sort of show their hand in the types of questions they were asking

the lawyers in terms of which way they're likely to go here?

SCHNEIDER: Yeah, it does seem like they are willing to toss this lawsuit out and say that the doctors here who brought this case two years ago in

the lower courts, that they didn't even have standing. Now, the lower courts here, the District Court in Texas, as well as the Fifth Circuit

Court of Appeals, they both determined that the doctors did have the power to bring this suit. That somehow these doctors were, in fact, injured

because they either did or might have to treat women who took Mifepristone if something went wrong.

But the Supreme Court seemed a lot more skeptical of that argument, of the standing argument in general. And because of that, it looks like perhaps

they might just toss this lawsuit. And if they did so, everything would remain status quo with Mifepristone. It's currently at status quo because

the lower court's rulings were frozen while the Supreme Court decided to hear this case.

So, it does appear that Mifepristone may continue to be delivered and prescribed in the same way that it has been for many years now. If we're

reading the tea leaves correctly about a majority of these justices, probably finding that the doctors shouldn't have even brought this lawsuit

in the first place. So, we'll see, Zain.

ASHER: All right, Jessica Schneider, live for us there. Thank you so much. All right, let's bring in Brittany Fontenot. She's the president and CEO of

the National Abortion Federation. She says that Mifepristone is very safe, very effective, and arguments restrict its use are not based on medicine.

But I presume you're going to say, obviously, based on culture wars and politics.

Brittany, thank you so much for being with us. Obviously, this is the first sort of major reproductive rights case before the Supreme Court since the

Dobbs ruling back in 2022. And it's important to note this is not about an outright ban on medication abortion. It's about restricting access to it.

There are some abortion, anti-abortion lawyers that believe that the FDA overstepped its authority by expanding access to the drug back in 2016 and

2021, as well. But just walk us through your take on this, because if this drug is restricted, if access to it is widely reduced, what are the

consequences of that? What are the implications of that, Brittany?

BRITTANY FONTENO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL ABORTION FEDERATION: So, first of all, thank you so much for having me today. I think that, simply

put, this is a monumental case that the Supreme Court is considering right now. We know that access to safe, effective medication abortion care is

essential to ensuring people's ability to make their own decisions about their reproductive lives and about their future.

We also know that, as you said, Mifepristone is a safe, effective FDA- approved medication, and it's now used in over half of all abortions in the U.S. What we saw with the Dobbs decision nearly two years ago was that the

Supreme Court undid the Roe legal framework and unleashed chaos and confusion when it came to the laws around abortion in the U.S. What we're

contending with now is an elevation, potentially, of that chaos and confusion by clawing back, potentially, Mifepristone access.

And, as I mentioned before, access to medication abortion is part of essential health care, and this is one of the two medications that are used

in the most common medication abortion regime in the U.S. So, the consequences of this potential decision could be far-reaching, and not just

for abortion, but for FDA-approved medications in general.

ASHER: Some say, look, curtailing access to this drug might end up meaning that, rather than having access via telehealth or telemedicine, women would

have to be in the doctor's office in order to be prescribed this drug. How onerous would that be for certain women, especially since, you know, some

believe that that is not medically necessary at all?

FONTENO: Great. So, at first, it's really important to follow the medicine here, right? In the medicine, the evidence has shown that medication

abortion can be used via telehealth safely and effectively. And so, what we're talking about here is anti-abortion extremists and their political

agenda to claw back access to medication abortion.

We know that the people who will be hardest hit by this potential inaccessibility of Mifepristone will be the people who can actually least

afford to have their health care taken away.


And so, we're talking about women who are BIPOC, who are lower-income immigrants, who are in rural communities, and young women. And so, what we

see when it comes to barriers to care is that having to flee your community because there are abortion bans in your state or your local provider is not

able to prescribe Mifepristone and other forms of medication abortion and procedural abortion, that that really presents an obstacle to care that no

one should have to endure.

It's not medically necessary and shouldn't be for someone to have to leave their community, to go out of state, to spend money, to find childcare, to

receive what is essential and basic health care.

ASHER: But just in terms of options, right? There are many who argue, look, if Mifepristone is restricted, there are alternatives. Misoprostrol is one

of them, for example. Would that work, for example, if it does end up being restricted because there are still, at this point, viable alternatives for

a lot of women in this country? Give us your take on that.

FONTENO: Yeah. So, there are viable alternatives outside of the Mifepristone, Misoprostol abortion medication regimen. We know that this is

a safe and effective regimen, that misoprostol-only abortion medication regimen is used in many countries throughout the world. However, we do know

that two-step processing, including Mifepristone, is more effective. It's about 95 percent effective, while the Misoprostol-only regimen is about 85

percent effective.

But we can't be fooled here. This is really about access to medication abortion, and this is really about taking away people's access to

medication abortion, making a medication that is safe, legal, and effective out of reach for the people who need it most. And we can't be fooled into

thinking that anti-abortion politicians and advocates and judges will stop here. This is really just one step toward their ultimate goal of completely

banning abortion.

ASHER: Yeah, there are medical implications. There are cultural implications. And actually, to be honest with you, there are major

political implications, as well, especially when you think about the fact that this is an election year in the United States. Brittany Fonteno, live

for us there. Thank you so much.

All right, still to come here, we'll look at weather conditions at the moment of that bridge collapse in Baltimore and what effect -- what effect

weather conditions might have had and also what effect they're having on rescue operations, as well. We'll have a live update for you after the




WES MOORE, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: This is a place that is a normal commute route for over 30,000 Marylanders every single day. And so to hear the

words that the key bridge has collapsed, it's shocking.


ASHER: And President Joe Biden will address the bridge collapse in Baltimore shortly. He'll do so very soon. We'll also bring you his remarks

as soon as when -- as soon as it happens, excuse me. We're also keeping an eye on the large scale search and rescue operations underway as I speak.

The weather was chilly at the time of the incident -- about the mid 40s. It's about seven degrees Celsius.

Baltimore County official Johnny Olszewski says conditions for those in the water are certainly difficult in those sorts of temperatures. He spoke to

CNN earlier.


JOHNNY OLSZEWSKI, BALTIMORE COUNTY EXECUTIVE: The conditions are difficult, right? We're talking about a deep channel port. It's 40 -- 50 feet of

water, strong currents. The weather is windy. The water is cold. And so, we certainly worry about those who are in the water, not to mention the fall

from the bridge. For folks who we know, we know that there were individuals working on the bridge.

ASHER: CNN's Derek Van Dam joins us live now from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. I mean, that is a point that you cannot understate the fact that

the water this time of year is very, very cold. And that, of course, to be perfectly blunt, makes survivability an issue, especially when you're

talking about 12 hours in those sorts of temperatures.

But just walk us through how the weather at the time of the disaster may have impacted this tragedy and also how the weather will impact or is

impacting search and rescue operations, Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Yeah, I think that's important right there. It's not about how the weather impacted the tragedy. It's about how

it's impacting the tragedy now because we've got the search and rescue operations in the water, on top of the surface of the water. And, of

course, this is still considered a -- active search and rescue operation.

So, we're treating this as if people still are alive from this -- from this tragedy. So, water temperatures right now in the Baltimore Harbor are

roughly 48 degrees. That's nine degrees Celsius. This is the Patapsco River and the Chesapeake Bay just a little further towards the east.

Here is a look at the Key Bridge that collapsed. That's the major artery, 695 -- 30,000 people traversing that. You think about what happened at 1:30

Eastern Standard Time this morning. So, we're going on 12 hours. The survivability of someone sustaining those types of water temperatures

between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly seven to nine degrees Celsius, are limited.

During that process, what happens is that your heart rate increases if you succumb to this type of water temperature. Your heart rate increases. Your

breathing increases. And basically, you can lose functionality within the limbs of your body, and you can actually go into cardiac arrest, as well.

So that's the concern here, and that's why this is a serious race against a clock. We know that. And when we talk about the complications for the

divers going into that murky water, there are so many other very dynamic things happening all at the same time.

We have a coastal flood advisory, dangerous rip currents within the Chesapeake Bay, up and down the Patapsco River, as well, where this bridge

collapsed. Remember, we have the ebbs and flows of the normal high and low tide. But right now, it's exaggerated because of a full moon. We call that

a spring tide.

So, this could be complicating the currents underwater, for all we know. We have seen the live shots from Brian Todd through the course of the morning.

It shows a relatively calm water right at the surface. That doesn't mean that's representative of what's happening below the water, as well. And we

have to remember that there's an approaching cold front that is actually moving in from the west. Here it is on the satellite and radar. And, wow, I

mean, that's going to complicate efforts, as well.

So, this is going to move east. We generally get winds that pick up in advance of an approaching cold front, and that means that we could see a

bit of chop on the water on the surface. So, that will make it even more challenging for those search-and-rescue boats that are trying to anchor

themselves in and around the bridge collapse, Zain, trying to get a firm footing on where they need to dive, how they need to conduct the search-

and-rescue operations.

And the weather is just not going to play along, especially going forward into tonight and into the day tomorrow. So, this is a complicating factor.

You can see the wind forecast. These are gusts anywhere between 5 to 15, even upwards of 25 miles per hour. So, we're talking over 30 to 40

kilometers per hour.


So, lots to consider here in this ongoing event.

ASHER: Honestly, for the sake of the family members, the people who are in the water right now, I am hoping and praying for good news -- for good news

today. Derek Van Dam, live for us, thank you so much. All right, after the break, we're waiting to hear from President Biden about that tragedy in

Baltimore. We will also update you on the effort to find survivors, as well. That's next.


ASHER: All right, welcome back to "One World". I'm Zain Asher. A massive search is underway for at least six people who are on a bridge in Baltimore

that collapsed after it was struck by a large cargo ship earlier today. Emergency officials say two people were rescued, including one with serious


Nobody was -- nobody who was on board the ship was actually hurt. The FBI says there are no signs the crash was an act of terrorism. Maryland

Governor Wes Moore called it a shocking and heartbreaking event for people in the area who have used that bridge for 47 years. That bridge was

completed in 1977. So it's been around for a long time, and it is part of Baltimore. It is part of the beating heart of Baltimore.

I want to go now to CNN's Brian Todd, who is on a boat in the river near the bridge. I'm just looking behind you, Brian. I can see the cargo ship in

the distance. I can see part of the collapsed bridge in the distance.


It takes a lot to shock me, and the image behind you is unbelievable. I don't think I've ever actually seen anything quite like it in my life. Just

walk us through what you're seeing and what you're hearing from your perspective.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Zain. We've been able to get to this vantage point a few hundred yards away from the vessel itself. We'll come

past me, and we'll kind of zoom in with both of our cameras here. Our photojournalists, Andrew Christman and Joe Merkel, have two cameras here.

One is kind of on a steady pod, and he's going to be able to zoom in there.

These are the rescue operations. This is still a full-fledged rescue operation. As you can hear, a helicopter buzzing overhead. There are air

restrictions, so no other helicopters other than Coast Guard or other rescue helicopters are allowed around here. No other air traffic is

allowed. That's a Coast Guard helicopter that's just buzzing over.

And you can see some of the boats that are involved in the rescue operations. Six people, as you mentioned, unaccounted for. That's what

they're looking for right now. These are operations that are just with dive teams that have been in here all morning long for at least 10 hours now

looking for these missing six people.

Two people were rescued. One of them was seriously injured and is being treated. The other one was unhurt. They tracked about five vehicles that

were on the bridge at the time of this collapse, but it's unclear whether anyone was actually in those vehicles or not. So you've got six people

unaccounted for.

And you can see at least a couple hundred-foot drop there. If any of these people were at the height of the bridge, that's the distance that they

would have fallen. Another dramatic image that you're looking straight at right now.

Look at the remnants of that bridge and the utter disaster. The middle part of the entire bridge is completely gone. You see some of the stanchions of

the bridge and the abutments that hold up those stanchions. There's one right there, and the stanchions are to the left and to the right.

Across the bow of the ship, you can see part of the bridge lying across the bow and some of the damage there. This was a fully loaded container ship

that we're told now, giving you a little bit of the timeline, it left port at about 12:28 A.M. Eastern time, and this incident occurred about an hour

later at about 1.27 A.M. Eastern time.

What was fortunate was, according to officials, that either the pilot or someone else on board that vessel was able to put out a Mayday call before

impact, and that gave officials enough time to close the bridge down and prevent other vehicles from getting on the bridge, prevent other traffic

from getting on this bridge. So, that was very fortunate and could have really saved lives there.

But again, this is still a full-fledged rescue operation, and it will be for several hours. The conditions here, the water is smooth on the surface,

but the water is extremely cold. Our CNN weather experts tell us this is about 46 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit.

Those are very dangerous conditions for anyone to survive in, more than about maybe one to three hours' time, but it's also dangerous for the

divers, as well, so they've got to monitor that, as well. Some bad weather coming in in the next few hours. Overnight tonight, it's going to be

raining. Visibility here will be impacted by that, and the water will get murkier, as far as that's concerned.

So, you've got -- that's the picture of the rescue operation. Now here's the picture of the economic disruption. We'll pan to our left, and Andrew

will show you. You see that big green container ship over there? That's the Carmen. That is a ship that transports cars into the port of Baltimore.

That vessel and other cargo and container ships are completely trapped now inside Baltimore Harbor.

Nothing can come in or out now, and that could be the case for days on end. We just don't know how long these vessels will be trapped, and what does

that impact? Well, that not only impacts, of course, the cars coming in and out on that vessel, but other materials and goods coming into the port of


And you're talking then about hotels, restaurants, other businesses that depend on this traffic coming in and out of the port of Baltimore -- all of

that at a standstill now. So it gives you an idea, Zain, of the economic impact that this is going to have on this area probably for at least

several days.

What I can also tell you is, I've spoken to a gentleman who is part of a marine construction company that will be involved in the salvaging and the

reconstruction of this bridge. He told me a short time ago, it's going to take several days just to get floating cranes and other heavy equipment to

the site.

Once they get to the site, then they're going to have to chop up the remnants of this bridge into smaller pieces just to remove them and maybe

even make it possible for some vessel traffic to come in and out of here. That's days away for them to even just get on site and begin that work,

Zain. So, it kind of gives you the full impact of the devastation here.

ASHER: Yeah, I mean, getting the remnants of that bridge out of the harbor, obviously important. The economic impact, obviously noteworthy, as well.

But the real focus is on saving lives. I mean, the six people who are unaccounted for have, by my calculation, been in the water for almost 12



And we're talking about 47 degrees Fahrenheit, extremely cold. And you think about what those sorts of temperatures do to the human body, it is

not good. Just walk us through what the divers at this point in time, Brian, are up against.

TODD: Well, they're up against some bad currents. Now, I know the water does seem smooth, and it is smooth on the surface, Zain. But we're told

that there are very strong currents underneath the water. And, again, we mentioned the rain coming in later. They're going to be up against that.

But that won't happen until probably the very late night and overnight hours tonight into Wednesday morning.

So -- but again, they're going to do this 24-7 until they can find people. So, that's going to be impacting the rescue operations, as well. Luckily,

right now, the weather is fairly moderate. It's not overly cold outside. The wind is not too bad right now at all. There's almost no wind out here

at the moment.

But that doesn't mean that's going to hold for the next several hours. There is some bad weather moving in here, Zain. And, again, those frigid

temperatures do take a toll on the divers, as well. They can't stay in for maybe more than maybe 30 minutes at a time, then they've got to come out.

So, that's what these boats over here are engaged in and those boats that are near the ship there. Nobody on board the ship, as I heard you mention

earlier, nobody on board the ship itself was injured. But look at that. That's a fully loaded container ship that's almost a thousand feet long and

about 130 feet wide, completely loaded with some material in all those containers. That gives you an idea.

We're told there's roughly 116,000 tons in weight. So, that's the kind of force that slammed into that bridge. And, again, the fortunate part is that

they were able to do a Mayday call before impact. So, that gave officials time to kind of get people -- prevent people from coming onto that bridge,

prevent more vehicular traffic from coming onto this bridge, Zain. So, if there's anything fortunate about it, it was that part of it, that they were

able to possibly save lives with that Mayday call.

ASHER: You know, the governor of Maryland was saying that he was woken up with a call about what happened. Obviously, this happened very early in the

morning, and he was told, listen, the key bridge is in the water. The key bridge has collapsed, and it's in the water. And he was just talking about

how shocking that is because this bridge is such an important part of Baltimore.

It's really part of the heart and soul of the city. Can you just explain to our international audience who might not be that familiar with Baltimore,

who might not be familiar with this particular bridge, how much of an important piece of infrastructure it is just to sort of keep the city


TODD: Well, that really can't be overstated because it is hugely important, and all of that has been disrupted. You're talking about vehicular traffic

now. This is one of the only bridges around here. We don't know of any other one right now. This is one of the only bridges that allows HAZMAT

material --hazardous materials, oil and other things, to come over the bridge and be transported up and down the East Coast.

That material is not allowed inside the 895 -- Route 895 and Route 695 tunnels where a lot of the other vehicular traffic is allowed to go in. You

cannot put HAZMAT materials inside the tunnels where there's so much traffic going up and down the East Coast through Baltimore, underneath the

Baltimore Harbor. But you can put HAZMAT material on this bridge, and take a look at that.

It's completely disrupted, this bridge unusable for, Lord knows how long now, months probably at least. And so, that is all disrupted. That gives

you an idea of, again, the commerce and just the important nature of the vehicular traffic that now just cannot take place up and down the East

Coast because this is such a key artery.

ASHER: All right, Brian, Todd, do you stand by? I want to bring in Kristin Fisher, who's also standing by for us. Kristin, obviously the next step in

all of this is, of course, the investigation. And that has to start with, I imagine, interviewing crew members who are on board that ship. I mean, what

more can you tell us about what the next steps are in trying to figure out how exactly this happened and what exactly went wrong?

FISHER: Well, during the governor's press conference, he said that they had made, obviously, they'd made contact with the people on that ship. But

still, to the best of my knowledge, unclear exactly how much they have spoken to them or interviewed them, as you were just alluding to. So, yes,

of course, they're going to have to do interviews with everybody on board that ship.

What we know is that they were able to get the people on board that container ship, were able to get a Mayday call out. They were talking about

some issue with the ship's power. And you could see that with the ship's lights flickering on and off. So, they were able to get this Mayday call


And the governor said that because that Mayday call went out, they were able -- officials were able to stop some of the flow of traffic, stop more

cars from entering that bridge in the moments before it collapsed.


The governor said that he, of course, believed that that likely saved many, many lives. But, you know, yes, of course, so many questions now for the

crew on board that container ship. But as you heard, the focus right now is still very much on that search and rescue effort. Zain.

ASHER: We know that this ship was essentially piloted by local pilots. It was sort of local crew members who were steering the ship. And that's done

because local pilots are aware of the sorts of hazards, right, for every port and every sort of body of water here. Just explain to our audience

that process in terms of what we know on that front.

FISHER: Well, this is a very busy harbor, one of the busiest harbors in the United States. And so, it's impossible for every captain to know the ins

and outs of every harbor. And so, you have these local pilots who assist the captains of these massive container ships as they go through this

process. A lot of questions surrounding that process right there that need to be answered right now.

But, you know, Zain, you can see this ship right behind me. That's really the front of the ship. And you can just see it tore this massive section

out of the Key Bridge. And, you know, I just can't overstate what a critical artery this is into Baltimore. I mean, this is a massive

interstate, 695. It loops around the whole city. And so, now, not only is this going to be a real commute nightmare --

ASHER: All right, Kristin, I have to interrupt you because President Biden is speaking now on this tragedy. Let's listen in.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Before I leave for North Carolina, which I'm going to do in a few minutes, I want to speak briefly

about the terrible incident and accident that happened in Baltimore this morning.

At about 1:30, a container ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which I've been over many, many times commuting from the state of Delaware. I've

been on a train or by car. I've been in Baltimore Harbor many times. And the bridge collapsed, sending several people and vehicles into the water,

into the river. And multiple U.S. Coast Guard units, which are stationed very nearby, thank God, were immediately deployed along with local

emergency personnel.

And the Coast Guard is leading the response to the port, where representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, the FBI, the

Department of Transportation, the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as Maryland officials in Baltimore Police and Fire are all working together to

coordinate an emergency response.

Officials at the scene estimate eight people were unaccounted for still -- not still, were unaccounted for. That number might change. Two have been

rescued, one without injury, one in critical condition. And the search and rescue operation is continuing for all those remaining as we speak.

I spoke with Governor Moore this morning, as well as the mayor of Baltimore, the county executive, to both United States senators and the

congressman. And my Secretary of Transportation is on the scene. I told them we're going to send all the federal resources they need as we respond

to this emergency. And I mean all the federal resources.

And we're going to rebuild that port together. Everything, so far, indicates that this was a terrible accident. At this time, we have no other

indication, no other reason to believe there was any intentional act here.

Personnel on board the ship were able to alert the Maryland Department of Transportation that they had lost control of their vessel, as you all know

and reported. As a result, local authorities were able to close the bridge to traffic before the bridge was struck, which undoubtedly saved lives.

And our prayers are with everyone involved in this terrible accident, all the families, especially those waiting for the news of their loved one

right now. I know every minute in that circumstance feels like a lifetime. You just don't know. It's just terrible.

We're incredibly grateful for the brave rescuers who immediately rushed to the scene and to the people of Baltimore. We want to say we're with you.

We're going to stay with you as long as it takes. And like the governor said, you're Maryland tough, you're Baltimore strong, and we're going to

get through this together. And I promise we're not leaving.

Here's what's happening now. The search and rescue operation is our top priority. Ship traffic in the Port of Baltimore has been suspended until

further notice, and we'll need to clear that channel before the ship traffic can resume. The Army Corps of Engineers is on the spot and is going

to help lead this effort to clear the channel.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the nation's largest shipping hubs, and I've been there a number of times as a Senator and as a Vice President. It

handles a record amount of cargo last year. It's also the top port in America for both imports and exports of automobiles and light trucks.

Around 850,000 vehicles go through that port every single year, and we're going to get it up and running again as soon as possible.

Fifteen thousand jobs depend on that port, and we're going to do everything we can to protect those jobs and help those workers.


The bridge is also critical for travel, not just for Baltimore, but for the Northeast Corridor. Over 30,000 vehicles cross the Francis Scott Key Bridge

on a daily basis. It's virtually the -- well, it's one of the most important elements for the economy in the Northeast and the quality of


My Transportation Secretary is there now. As I told Governor Moore, I've directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild

the bridge as soon as humanly possible. And we're going to work hand in hand with the support of Maryland to support Maryland in whatever they ask

for. We're going to work with our partners in Congress to make sure the state gets the support it needs.

It's my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge, and I expect the Congress to support my

effort. This is going to take some time. The people of Baltimore can count on us, though, to stick with them at every step of the way until the port

is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.

You know, we're not leaving until this job gets done, not leaving until then. So, I just want to say God bless everybody who -- everyone harmed

this morning and their families, and may God bless the first responders, many of whom are risking their lives. And I'm going to -- the reason I'm

not going to take a lot of questions, there's remaining issues that are open, and we've got to determine what's going to happen in terms of the

rescue mission and the like. But I'll --

REPORTER: Do you plan to go to Baltimore, Sir? And if so, how quickly?

BIDEN: I do, and as quickly as I can.

REPORTER: You said the federal government is also going to pay for the repairs. I'm just curious. This was a ship that appears to be at fault. Is

there any reason to believe that the company behind the ship should be held responsible? And then also --

BIDEN: That could be, but we're not going to wait for that to happen. We're going to pay for it to get the bridge rebuilt and opened.

REPORTER: What did you make of Israel's decision not to attend this meeting this week?

BIDEN: Oh, I don't want to get ahead of myself. We've got plenty of time to talk about --.

REPORTER: You mentioned the port. Can I ask about cars? About the port.

UNKNOWN: Thank you for all your feedback.


ASHER: All right, President Biden speaking there, just detailing what exactly happened and all the sorts of things that went wrong in the

aftermath of that devastating bridge collapse in Baltimore. The President says that he does plan to go to Baltimore. He plans to go as soon as he is

able to. He said that the focus right now is really on the search and rescue operation.

Six people, of course, unaccounted for at this point in time. But that another priority of his is, of course, to get that port and the bridge back

up and running, to sort of reconstruct the bridge. He talked about the fact that the federal government will be covering the entire cost of

reconstructing that bridge, adding that 15,000 jobs -- 15,000 American jobs depend on that port. It is hugely important to the local economy.

I want to bring in Kristin Fisher again. So, Kristin, one of the things he did touch on there, once again, was how critical that Mayday call was. I

mean, the crew members on that ship issued a Mayday call which allowed a lot of lives to be saved here, just in terms of closing down that bridge to

traffic. Take us through that again.

FISHER: Yeah, so apparently shortly before the container ship collided with the bridge, the crew was able to get a Mayday call out saying they were

having some power issues with the ship. That enabled authorities up on land or up on the bridge to stop traffic, stop more cars from entering the

bridge, which likely saved countless lives, really.

But then, of course, it also raises the question, if that Mayday call did get out, if they were able to keep cars from entering the bridge, then why

wasn't that construction crew notified? Or maybe they were, and maybe they couldn't get out in time.

So, just a lot of questions now surrounding that, because we now know that it is those six members of that construction crew that the Coast Guard and

search and rescue officials are now searching for.

You heard President Biden say, though two, fortunately, had been rescued, one in critical condition, another one, okay. But, Zain, I think the big

headline there, the real bit of new information there from President Biden's remarks, is the fact that he says the federal government will be

the one paying to rebuild this bridge, as he was saying, just an absolutely critical part of not just Baltimore's infrastructure, but this entire

corridor. Zain.

ASHER: All right, Kristin Fisher, live for us there. Thank you so much. Let's go straight now to CNN's Tom Foreman joining us live now from

Washington. Tom, what more do we know at this point about the crew that was on board that ship that ended up hitting the bridge? Just take us through

what we know.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that when they left the port there, a place called Point Breezy, when they took off, they turned at about three

miles an hour, and then by the time they reached the bridge, they had accelerated to about nine miles an hour.


Now, the important thing, KristIn raised a question there, why were the people on the bridge working there perhaps not warned as early? It may

simply be a matter of time. If you look at the navigational track of this ship, you see it sort of veer a little bit when it is -- I'm going to say

roughly 800 meters away from the bridge.

It takes a decided turn away from the main channel that they're on, to the right, if you were on the ship. And that's what leads it directly to this

piling. So, if that was their first warning, and they warned as quickly as they could, that's still probably only going to be about three and a half,

four minutes before impact to tell people what happened.

We believe that's when it happened, because we also saw some tugboats on that tracking turnaround, at least one turnaround, and start racing back to

the ship as if it was aware that there was some kind of problem. So, one of the questions will be, how did the warning come out? When did it come out?

And what was the first sign that crew had that something was very wrong there? Zain.

ASHER: Yeah, those are all key questions, but worth noting, sort of major news at this hour, that President Biden has said that the federal

government is going to be paying to repair the bridge. Even if the ship was at fault, they're not going to wait. They will be paying to reconstruct

that bridge.

FOREMAN: That important to the whole country.

ASHER: Exactly. All right, Tom Foreman, live for us there. Thank you so much. And that does it for this hour of "One World". I'm Zain Asher. Thank

you so much for watching. Amanpour is up next.