Baltimore Bridge Collapses After Being Hit By Ship

  • Many vehicles plunge into the river, but no record of casualty – Officials
Emergency personnel at the collapsed Bridge in Baltimore
The Francis Scott Key Bridge after it collapsed in Baltimore

A major bridge in Baltimore in the State of Maryland, United States, has snapped and collapsed after a container ship collided with it early on Tuesday, sending several vehicles into the water.

Confirming the unfortunate incident, the Baltimore City Mayor, Brandon M Scott said rescue efforts were immediately underway after the cargo vessel crashed into Francis Scott Key Bridge, resulting in several vehicles plunging into the water

The Baltimore Fire Department said it was searching for at least seven people believed to be in the water, after reports that a large vessel had crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The ship caught fire before reportedly sinking.

A video on X showed much of the 2.6km bridge giving way, as multiple fell into the Patapsco River below. According to a post on X by the Maryland Transportation Authority; “All lanes closed both directions for the incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured”, adding; “I-695 Key Bridge collapse due to ship strike. Active scene,” it later added.

Kevin Cartwright, the Director of Communications for the Baltimore Fire Department said that calls to 911 had come in at about 1.30 am, notifying that a vessel traveling outbound from Baltimore had struck a column on the bridge, causing it to collapse.

Cartwright, who also acknowledged that several vehicles were on the bridge at the time, including one the size of a tractor-trailer, said; “Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people”, adding that it was too early to know how many people were affected but described the collapse as a “developing mass casualty event”.

He further said it appeared there were “some cargo or retainers” that seemed to be dangling from the bridge, creating unsafe and unstable conditions that were complicating the rescue operation. “This is a dire emergency,” he said.

Matthew West, a petty officer first class for the coastguard in Baltimore, told the New York Times that the coastguard received a report of an impact at 1.27 am ET. West said the Dali, a 948ft (290-metre) Singapore-flagged cargo ship, had hit the bridge that is part of Interstate 695.

The Dali had left Baltimore at 1 am and was heading for the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, according to the maritime data platform MarineTraffic.

Synergy Marine Group, the manager of the Dali, confirmed that the ship had collided with one of the pillars of the bridge. It said all crew members, including the two pilots, had been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries.

“Whilst the exact cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the Dali has now mobilised its qualified individual incident response service,” it said.

In their responses, Baltimore Mayor, Brandon M Scott, and the County Executive, Johnny Olszewski Jr, said emergency personnel were at the scene and rescue efforts were underway.

Built in 1977, the bridge spans the Patapsco River, a vital artery that along with the Port of Baltimore is a hub for shipping on the US’s east coast. It is named for the author of the American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. – Additional reports from The Guardian, AP and Reuters

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