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Baltimore bridge collapse: Racist online attacks on ‘Indian crew’ of ship MV Dali despite local pilots steering it

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), GBH Remilio wrote, "Fun fact. That boat had a full 22-person crew, all from India. India literally jeeted the bridge." The post was marked with a community post clarifying that the two pilots of the ship were local.

On 26th March (local time), Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed moments after a container ship collided with one of its pillars while it was under pilotage. Shocking visuals of the collision and bridge collapse show an explosive fire on board the container ship as the bridge above shakes, breaks into pieces, and falls into the water.

Later, it came to light that all 22-member crew on the ship was Indian, with local pilots operating the ship steering it away from the Baltimore port. However, as soon as reports came out that the crew was Indian, a plethora of racial attacks on Indians started on social media.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), GBH Remilio wrote, “Fun fact. That boat had a full 22-person crew, all from India. India literally jeeted the bridge.” The post was marked with a community post clarifying that the two pilots of the ship were local.

Source: X

X user Trevor Sutcliffe, though, acknowledged the pilots were local; he claimed the blame went to the captain. Interestingly, he did not use “Indian” but directly targeted the Hindu community. When other X users pointed out that other communities live in India, including Muslims, Sikhs and others, he went on a mission to blame Hindus. He wrote, “The company that operated the container ship that destroyed the Key Bridge in Baltimore appears to hire largely Hindu crews. However, a local harbour pilot would likely have been at the helm when the ship struck the bridge. Responsibility would still fall upon the ship’s captain.”

Source: X

A Pakistani handle, FM1947PAK, took a different direction and accused India of launching a suicide bomb attack on the US that resulted in the bridge collapse. He wrote, “I’m shocked to find out that today India has attacked the USA mainland by using suicide bombers against the bridge in Baltimore. I hope that President Biden responds to this just like President Bush responded to 9/11.”

Source: X

An X user, LaurenWitzkeDE, used ‘pajeet’ jibe and wrote, “A bunch of Pajeets pulverizing an American bridge named after the man who wrote America’s national anthem really is almost prophetic.”

Source: X

An X user, FoxfordComics, used AI images and some video editing to target Indians. In the background, the handle used audio from a video where men of Indian origin were abusing each other asserting the same might have happened during the tragic accident.

Another X user, DiogenestheD0G, made a comic strip with a Sikh pilot to target Indians.

Source: X

The Indian crew saved lives by initiating a Mayday call

While the Indians were getting the blame for the tragic accident, in reality, it was the Indian crew that immediately alerted the local authorities about the power outage, saving many lives. Following the Mayday call, the authorities stopped several vehicles from taking the bridge significantly reducing the loss of lives.

As per reports, the Singapore-flagged cargo ship, Dali, departed from the Baltimore Port at 1 AM on Tuesday for Colombo, Sri Lanka. The ship lost propulsion from a sudden power outage as it left the port. The crew notified the officials they had lost control, and the traffic to the bridge was immediately stopped. Synergy Group confirmed that two local pilots from Baltimore port were stirring the ship at the time of the accident. The officials confirmed that the pilots were local.

President Joe Biden acknowledged the crew onboard’s role in saving lives. He said, “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 have reported.  As a result, local authorities were able to close the bridge to traffic before the bridge was struck, which undoubtedly saved lives.”

Unprecedented racial attacks on Indians on social media

In the past few weeks, the targeted racial attacks on Indians has increased on social media by several folds. Even X’s chief Elon Musk replied “yeah” to a derogatory post against India where the OP had called India a “third world”. An X user, Rothmus, shared a news report of a white woman gang-raped in 2018 in India while she was seeking a cure for depression. Along with the news report screenshot, the X user wrote, “I blame Eat, Pray, Love for making white women believe the third world is a cure for their depression.” To his post, Musk wrote, “yeah”.

Notably, OpIndia earlier reported a well-orchestrated malicious online campaign run by foreign social media accounts aimed at showing India in a negative light, targeting and ridiculing it for prevalent social and civic issues such as disregarding lane discipline and traffic signals, breaking the rules and queues, public urination, food habits, the presence of homeless beggars on crowded streets, instances of eve teasing, drunk driving, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking among others. Notably, while these issues plague most countries worldwide, they were explicitly used by detractors against India to paint a negative image of the country and discredit the giant strides it has been making, especially in the past ten years.

The “What’s wrong with India?” campaign, however, was soon “hijacked” by Indian X users who shared videos from outside India to illustrate how no country is perfect. Each of them is facing a unique set of challenges defined by their socio-economic conditions, historical traditions, and social ethos.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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