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SL and Indian sailors of the ship Dali crashed in Baltimore prevented from return home

By: Staff Writer

June 24, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lankan and Indian crew members from on the ill-fated cargo ship Dali that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore leading to its collapse have been prevented from returning to their home countries by attorneys appearing in the case.

Eight of the crew members were to return home as early as June 20, according to emails included in court filings this week. The roughly two dozen total seafarers are from India and Sri Lanka, informed international sources disclosed.

That would mark the first time any of them would leave the ship after it collided with the bridge on March 26.

In court filings, attorneys representing the City of Baltimore said the men should remain in the U.S. so they can be questioned over who should be held responsible for covering costs and damages resulting from the bridge collapse.

“The crew consists entirely of foreign nationals who, of course, have critical knowledge and information about the events giving rise to this litigation,” attorneys wrote. “If they are permitted to leave the United States, Claimants may never have the opportunity to question or depose them.”

No ruling has been issued in response. A spokesperson for the ship’s owner said he could not specify how many crew members were leaving and when.

The ship’s owner and manager, from two Singapore-based companies, began the ongoing civil litigation with a petition seeking to limit their legal liability for the deadly disaster.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the ship experienced two power outages in the hours before it left the Port of Baltimore.

In the moments before the bridge collapse, it lost power again and veered off course. The agency is investigating to determine what caused the electrical issues.

Department of Justice investigators have already interviewed the eight crew members scheduled to return home, and they have no objection to the crew’s departure.

The 20 Indians and one Sri Lankan on board have been stuck on the ship since March 26, when the 984-foot ship lost propulsion, veered off course and destroyed the Francis Scott Key Bridge – killing six construction workers

But at a Thursday court hearing, a judge approved a deal that would allow eight of the crew members to fly home as early as this week. And on Friday, a spokesperson for the crew’s employer said federal authorities have cleared two more seamen to return home.

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