Salvage crews have begun removing containers from the ship that collapsed Baltimore’s Key bridge

 Salvage crews on Sunday began removing containers from the deck of the cargo ship that crashed into and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, an important step toward the full reopening of one of the nation’s main shipping lanes.

The removal of the containers from the deck of the Dali would continue this week as weather permits, according to a statement from the Key Bridge Response Unified Command. Crews were progressing toward removing sections of the bridge that lie across the ship’s bow to eventually allow it to move, the statement said.

In total, 32 vessels have passed through temporary channels on either side of the wreckage, officials said.

“The Unified Command is concurrently progressing on its main lines of effort to remove enough debris to open the channel to larger commercial traffic,” U.S. Coast Guard Capt. David O’Connell said in the statement.

The Dali has been trapped under mangled steel in the Patapsco River since it slammed into the bridge on March 26, killing six workers.

President Joe Biden took a helicopter tour Friday of the warped metal remains and the mass of construction and salvage equipment trying to clear the wreckage. The president also met for more than an hour with the families of those who died.

Eight workers — immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — were filling potholes on the bridge when it was hit and collapsed in the middle of the night. Two men were rescued and the bodies of three others were recovered in subsequent days. The search for the other victims continued.

Officials have established a temporary, alternate channel for vessels involved in clearing debris. The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to open a limited-access channel for barge container ships and some vessels moving cars and farm equipment by the end of April, and to restore normal capacity to Baltimore’s port by May 31, the White House said.

More than 50 salvage divers and 12 cranes are on site to help cut out sections of the bridge and remove them from the key waterway.

The atmosphere at Tiki Lee’s Dock Bar was jovial Sunday afternoon — funky music blared out at the seafood haunt in Sparrows Point. But the Francis Scott Key Bridge, as well as the six men who died while filling potholes when it collapsed on March 26, were on the minds of attendees.

It was also on the wall; Bob Merrell, the restaurant’s artist, painted a mural of the bridge in three days last week. It was on the shirts, too. The Key Bridge emblem seen on highway signs throughout the area was turned into a T-shirt sold at the event.

The waterfront restaurant, a local institution in the Patapsco Neck communities where residents have been able to see the bridge on the horizon for several decades, was hosting a benefit show Sunday. Owner David Carey said the dock bar “saw the impact [the bridge collapse] had and the emotional impact it had” and went forth with plans to respond, setting a goal of raising $30,000 throughout April for the families of the six workers who died in the collapse.

The responses quickly poured in from local businesses and musicians willing to contribute however they could. Baseball Card Outlet & Sports Memorabilia, a small store on Eastern Avenue, donated several autographed items to be auctioned off. The rockfish captains chipped in with gift certificates. So did a Timonium wellness spa and several area restaurants. And about 20 bands responded that they would volunteer their time.

“It was an honor” to get to play the benefit, said Dylan Greveris, the drummer for the Bel Air-based Pineapple Band, which was the first of four bands to play Sunday.

Logan Lambert, a Dundalk-famous rapper known as The Rapping Roofer, and fellow Dundalk musician Finch Flores performed their original “Key Bridge Song.” The two are also raising funds for the families of collapse victims with their own “Dundalk Strong” T-shirts emblazoned with the bridge.

Many at the event in Sparrows Point could recall some kind of tie to the bridge. Greveris and a bandmate remembered crossing it and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to play shows at the Jetty Dock Bar in Kent Narrows. Luke McFadden, a Chesapeake Bay waterman with a large following on social media who stopped by to speak with attendees and show off one of his boats, said he was on the bridge a few hours before it collapsed. But attendees’ and musicians’ primary reason for attending was the main focus of the fundraiser — the six construction workers who died that day.

Jack Murphy, president of the construction company the men worked for, arrived with his family, several donning Brawner Builders shirts.

“We’re coming out for the families,” Murphy said before dining at a table at Tiki Lee’s upper deck. “We’re feeling very positive for all of the support coming from the community and from the state.”

Divers have recovered the bodies of three victims: Alejandro Fuentes Hernandez, Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, and Maynor Suazo Sandoval. The bodies of Miguel Luna, Jose Mynor Lopez, and Carlos Hernandez have not yet been recovered. Two more workers who were on the bridge that night survived.

Brawner’s own fundraising efforts for the families who lost loved ones on March 26 had raised over $128,000 as of Sunday afternoon. The League of United Latin American Citizens had raised over $39,000. Christopher Heller, a friend of Sandoval’s, raised over $24,000 so far for his family. The Maryland Tough Baltimore Strong Alliance, a group of philanthropic institutions and businesses raising funds for “regional efforts to heal, respond and memorialize,” had raised over $15 million.

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