United States

Baltimore's biggest bridge collapses after being hit by a cargo ship, videos show. Mass casualty event declared.

Author: Editors Desk, Kwan Wei Kevin Tan and Mia Jankowicz Source: Business Insider:::
March 26, 2024 at 08:50
Julia Nikhinson/Reuters
Julia Nikhinson/Reuters
Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early on Tuesday morning.

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on Tuesday morning after it was struck by a large cargo ship.

A video of the incident was posted early on Tuesday morning to X, formerly Twitter. In the video, a large vessel was seen colliding with one of the bridge's support beams. Smoke was seen billowing from the ship before the bridge began crumbling.


"MAJOR BALTIMORE TRAFFIC ALERT: AVOID I-695 southeast corridor. I-695 Key Bridge collapse due to ship strike," the Maryland Transportation Authority said in an X post on Tuesday morning.

A representative for the Baltimore Police Department told ABC News that "at 1:35 a.m., Baltimore City police were notified of a partial bridge collapse, with workers possibly in the water, at the Francis Scott Key Bridge."

Emergency services teams, including divers and at least two helicopters, responded to the scene, per Baltimore County's police scanner in the hour and a half after the bridge's collapse.

Wes Moore, governor of Maryland, declared a state of emergency early on Tuesday.

Moore said he was working to "quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration," per the BBC.

The White House said it was "closely monitoring" the situation, and that there was no indication of any nefarious intent.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those who remain missing as a result of this horrific incident," a spokesperson told BI in a statement.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on X that he had offered the DOT's support to Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.

A view of the collapses Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, 2024.
A view of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, 2024, shared by local rescue services. Harford County Maryland Fire and EMS/Facebook

The Baltimore Fire Department estimates that up to 20 people people went into the water, the BBC reported.

Baltimore Fire Department Chief James Wallace said at a press conference early Tuesday that two people had been recovered from the water. One refused service, while another was transported to a local trauma center "in very serious condition," he said.

The fire department had not made contact with the ship's captain yet, he said.

A livestream view of the area at around 3:00 a.m. local time showed the bridge's structure partially submerged in the harbor and in several pieces.

A view of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, 2024, shared by local rescue services.
A view of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, 2024, shared by local rescue services. Harford County, Maryland, Fire and EMS

Structural engineer Ian Firth told the BBC that the heavy ship would have struck the bridge support backed by many thousands of metric tons.

"The support is a very, relatively, flimsy structure when you look at it, it's a kind of trestle structure with individual legs," he told the outlet. "So, the bridge has collapsed simply as a result of this very large impact force."

Barbara Rossi, an engineering professor at the University of Oxford, told BI: "According to what I could see online, the bridge has received a huge impact force on one of its supporting structures."

"The impacting force must have been immense," she said.

BI also viewed a vessel tracking map of the area on the ship monitoring site VesselFinder.com. At 2:50 a.m. local time, the Dali, a Singapore-flagged container ship, was seen remaining stationary under the bridge.

The collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after being struck by a container ship.
The collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore after being struck by a container ship on Tuesday. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Dali is owned by Grace Ocean, a Singapore-based firm. The firm confirmed in a statement on Tuesday morning that their vessel had struck one of the bridge's pillars, per TradeWinds.

"All crew members, including the two pilots, have been accounted for and there are no reports of any injuries. There has also been no pollution," read the firm's statement.

According to Grace Ocean, the vessel was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka when the accident took place.

A spokesman for the US Coast Guard (USCG) confirmed to the Baltimore Sun that the 948-foot-long Dali had collided with the bridge.

"USCG has deployed three response boats, and pollution responders are en route," Petty Officer First Class Matthew West told NBC News.

A screengrab from VesselFinder.com, showing the Singapore-flagged Dali cargo ship under the Baltimore Beltway.
The Dali, a Singapore-flagged cargo ship, was seen stationary on VesselFinder.com's vessel-tracking map. Screengrab/VesselFinder.com

Maersk, the ship's charterer, confirmed that vessel company Synergy Group operates the ship. Maersk's spokesperson told BI in a statement that the company is "horrified" by the events, and added that no Maersk employees were on board.

"We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy," it added.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. said in an X post that the authorities "are closely monitoring the ongoing situation at the Key Bridge."

"Our prayers remain with all those impacted," Olszewski wrote.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge opened in March 1977 as the final link in the Baltimore Beltway, according to the MDTA.

It cost $60.3 million to build and is 10.9 miles long, per the MDTA.

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