Baltimore bridge collapse after ship hits bridge

A significant bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, collapsed following a collision with a container ship early Tuesday morning, causing multiple vehicles to plunge into the water.

The Baltimore fire department is conducting a search for at least seven individuals believed to be in the water. Reports indicated that a large vessel collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Footage posted online depicted the vessel striking a central support of the bridge, leading to a substantial portion of the 2.6km structure collapsing into the Patapsco River below. The impact caused the ship to catch fire, with thick, black smoke billowing into the air.

The Maryland Transportation Authority announced the closure of all lanes in both directions on I-695 Key Bridge and initiated traffic diversions due to the incident. They later confirmed that the bridge collapse was a result of the ship strike.

Authorities received calls to 911 around 1:30 am reporting that a vessel outbound from Baltimore had collided with a bridge column, resulting in the collapse. Several vehicles, including one as large as a tractor-trailer, were on the bridge at the time.

Kevin Cartwright, the director of communications for the Baltimore fire department, stated that the primary focus was on rescuing and recovering individuals affected by the collapse. The situation was described as a “developing mass casualty event.”

Cartwright also noted the presence of dangling cargo or retainers on the bridge, posing additional risks and complications to the rescue operation.

According to Petty Officer First Class Matthew West of the Coast Guard in Baltimore, the Coast Guard received reports of the impact at 1:27 am ET. The vessel involved was identified as the Dali, a 948-foot Singapore-flagged cargo ship, which collided with the Interstate 695 section of the bridge.

The Dali had departed from Baltimore at 1 am en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, as per data from the maritime platform MarineTraffic.

Synergy Marine Group, the manager of the Dali, confirmed the collision with one of the bridge’s pillars. They assured that all crew members, including the two pilots, were safe with no reported injuries.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott and County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. confirmed the presence of emergency personnel at the scene, conducting rescue operations.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, constructed in 1977, spans the Patapsco River and serves as a crucial transportation link in the region, particularly for shipping activities at the Port of Baltimore. It is named after the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the American national anthem.

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