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A complex salvage operation is under way to remove the wreckage of the Baltimore bridge in a first step towards reopening the vital port and recovering the bodies of the four workers still missing, presumed dead.

Seven floating cranes, including the largest on the Atlantic seaboard, 10 tugs, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats, along with teams of engineers are involved in the mammoth task to clear the twisted metal and concrete remains of the Francis Scott Key Bridge from Maryland’s Patapsco River.

The structure collapsed into the water within seconds on Tuesday after being struck by the Dali, a 300m (985ft) cargo ship, which had lost power.

Pic: Reuters
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Experts are trying to work out how to break up the wreckage for removal. Pic: Reuters

US Coast Guard rear admiral Shannon Gilreath said experts were trying to work out how to “break that bridge up into the right-sized pieces that we can lift”.

Maryland governor Wes Moore said: “To go out there and see it up close, you realise just how daunting a task this is.

“With a salvage operation this complex – and frankly with a salvation operation this unprecedented – you need to plan for every single moment.”

He said shipping containers aboard the cargo vessel had been ripped apart “like papier-mache” in the crash.

More on Baltimore Bridge Collapse

The wreckage has blocked ships from entering or leaving the busy port and also hampered the search for the missing workers.

The governor said: “We have to bring a sense of closure to these families.”

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Inside ship that crashed into Baltimore bridge

Highlighting the mounting financial cost, he added: “What we’re talking about today is not just about Maryland’s economy, this is about the nation’s economy.

“The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other port in this country.”

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Baltimore has ‘very long road ahead’ after bridge disaster

Maryland’s secretary of transportation Paul J Wiedefeld said his department was already planning for rebuilding of the bridge and “considering innovative design, engineering and building methods so that we can quickly deliver this project”.

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Aftermath of Baltimore bridge wreckage

Meanwhile, the authorities have imposed a no-fly zone over the area with people told to keep drones away.

The victims of the disaster, members of a road crew fixing potholes on the bridge when it was destroyed, were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, officials said.

At least eight people initially went into the water when the ship struck the bridge column, and two of them were rescued.

Divers subsequently recovered the bodies of two men from a pick-up truck in the river, but the extent of the debris and murky underwater conditions have complicated efforts to find the other four workers.

The White House has approved $60m (£48m) in immediate aid, and US President Joe Biden has said the federal government will pay the full cost of rebuilding the road bridge, which was completed in 1977 and carried 30,000 vehicles a day.

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The cargo ship, which was managed by Synergy Marine Group, was heading from Baltimore to Sri Lanka at the time of the crash.

It is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Synergy said in a statement: “We deeply regret this incident and the problems it has caused for the people of Baltimore and the region’s economy that relies on this vitally important port.”

The firm has said it will continue to co-operate with the investigation.

Of the 21 crew members on the ship, only one was slightly injured and needed stitches.

The huge 86,000-tonne vessel was carrying nearly 4,700 shipping containers.

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Tram crash at Universal Studios Hollywood injures 15

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Tram crash at Universal Studios Hollywood injures 15

A tram crash at Universal Studios Hollywood has left 15 people injured.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department was called to the theme park shortly after 9pm local time on Saturday.

It said 15 people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.

The crash occurred when the final car of one of the trams collided with a metal guardrail, which caused it to “tilt and eject multiple passengers”, the California Highway Patrol said.

The Highway Patrol said some of the injuries were “moderate” but did not specify how many.

The trams are used to take park visitors on behind-the-scenes tours of the sets where some of Universal’s biggest movies and TV shows were filmed.

Sheriff’s Lieutenant Maria Abal suggested the four-car tram may have experienced an issue with its brakes.

Alcohol and drugs were not considered as a factor, said the Highway Patrol, which is leading the investigation.

A Universal Studios spokesperson told the Associated Press there were “multiple minor injuries” but did not provide details on the accident.

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The tram route, called the World-Famous Studio Tour, features sets from films such as 1975 classic Jaws and Jordan Peele’s recent hit Nope.

The crash came as Universal Studios Hollywood prepared to mark the 60th anniversary of the tour, with celebrations set to begin on Friday.

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Crucial $60.8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

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Crucial .8bn Ukraine aid package approved by US House of Representatives after months of deadlock

The US House of Representatives has approved sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine.

Democrats and Republicans joined together after months of deadlock over renewed American support to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion.

Representatives could be seen waving small Ukrainian flags as it became clear the package was going to pass.

Representatives wave Ukrainian flags
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Representatives wave Ukrainian flags

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted to say he was “grateful” for the decision, which he said “keeps history on the right track”.

He said: “Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger.”

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‘Grateful’ Zelenskyy reacts to US aid

Representatives also approved bills to send foreign aid to Israel and provide humanitarian relief to Palestinians in Gaza, give security assistance to Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific, and a measure containing several foreign policy proposals including a threat to ban Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

The package will now go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has then promised to sign it immediately.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” Mr Biden said.

What aid package means for Ukraine after profound impact of delay

The impact of this American blockage has been profound.

I have had multiple conversations with diplomats and military officials in Washington DC and all have said the same thing: the situation for Ukraine is depressing, Russia has the upper hand and prospects for Kyiv, without more weapons, are bleak.

The Ukrainians have been running low on all weapons types, even small arms – bullets for their soldiers’ rifles.

Before the House of Representatives approved the $60.8bn aid package on Saturday, it had been more than 480 days since Congress last passed a bill allowing for American weapons to be sent to Ukraine.

There was a White House budgetary fudge earlier this year which freed up some more cash from an existing bill and allowed for some more weapons to be sent. But it wasn’t enough.

Read more of Mark Stone’s analysis here.

Bill will ‘further ruin’ Ukraine, Russia warns

Moscow said the passage of the bill would “further ruin” Ukraine and result in more deaths.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the TASS news agency a provision allowing Washington to confiscate seized Russian assets and transfer them to Ukraine for reconstruction would tarnish the image of the US.

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Major Russian strike on Ukraine kills eight

‘Ukraine can and will win’

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the funding was “a vital step forward”.

“If Putin ever doubted the West’s resolve to back Ukraine, this shows our collective will is undimmed,” he tweeted.

“With support, Ukraine can and will win.”

But Donald Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican representative who has opposed helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, said “people have been too obsessed with voting for foreign wars and the war industry”.

Speaking after the vote passed, she said: “This is the sellout of America today. When we had members of Congress in there waving the Ukrainian flag on the United States House of Representatives floor, while we’re doing nothing to secure our border, I think every American is going to be furious.”

Mr Biden first requested the funding in October, as Ukraine’s military supplies began to dwindle.

In February, Mr Zelenskyy urged Congress to pass the funding, saying if it did not “it will leave me wondering what world we are living in”.

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TikTok could be banned in US after House of Representatives passes bill

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TikTok could be banned in US after House of Representatives passes bill

TikTok could be banned in the US if the social media app’s Chinese owner doesn’t sell its stake after the House of Representatives voted in support of the measure.

The TikTok legislation has been included in a US foreign policy package, which has already seen representatives approve sending $60.8bn (£49bn) in foreign aid to Ukraine, security assistance for Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific, and will likely see the approval of foreign aid funding for Ukraine and Israel.

Once approved, the package will then go to the US Senate, where it is likely to be passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has said he would sign the TikTok legislation once it reaches his desk.

If the bill becomes law, the owner of the popular video-sharing app will have nine months to find a buyer, with a possible three-month extension while a sale is in progress, or face a ban.

A previous bill passed by the House last month would have given owner ByteDance only six months to sell.

The company will likely try to challenge the law in court, arguing it would deprive the app’s millions of users of their First Amendment rights, which protect freedom of speech.

Such court challenges could significantly delay the timeline set out by Congress or block the law from coming into effect.

TikTok’s chief executive has appealed to US users directly to campaign to stop the bill.

“We will not stop fighting and advocating for you,” Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted on the platform last month that was directed at the app’s users.

“We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you.”

The FBI has warned TikTok owner ByteDance could share user data, such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers, with China’s authoritarian government.

TikTok has said it has never done that and would not do so if asked.

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In 2022, Mr Biden banned the use of TikTok by the federal government’s nearly four million employees on devices owned by its agencies, with limited exceptions for law enforcement, national security and security research purposes.

The approved bill including the TikTok legislation would also allow the US to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to help rebuild Ukraine and impose sanctions on Iran, Russia and China, as well as criminal organisations that traffic the drug fentanyl.

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