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Baltimore’s Key Bridge Collapses After Being Hit by Ship

Baltimore bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland collapsed early Tuesday after being struck by a fully loaded cargo ship exiting the Port of Baltimore. Authorities say the vessel crashed into the bridge’s central column carrying the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 695. The cause of the collision remains unclear.

The bridge snapped upon impact, sending the structure and several vehicles plummeting into the Patapsco River below. Authorities believe that at least seven vehicles, one being a tractor-trailer, were crossing the bridge during the early-morning collision. Underwater sonar equipment has detected vehicles at 50 feet depth under the bridge, though the exact number is unconfirmed.

Rescue crews have located and pulled only two individuals from the 47-degree Fahrenheit water thus far, one seriously injured. Baltimore Fire Department’s director of communications has called the situation a “developing mass casualty event” but said the department remains focused on rescue and recovery, with assistance from multiple agencies.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency and reported that his office is working with White House officials to funnel federal resources to the growing disaster quickly.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI Baltimore office are investigating the bridge collapse. FBI officials publicly stated there is currently “no specific and credible information” suggesting ties to terrorism.

The container ship, “Dali,” was under charter for the Danish shipping giant, Maersk, at the time of the collision, leaving port en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The ship’s owner and managing company, Synergy Marine Group, confirmed the vessel struck the bridge pillar at approximately 1:30 a.m. with two pilots at the helm. The company reported that the entire crew had been accounted for, and no injuries were reported. No Maersk crew or personnel were aboard. The company’s shares dropped two percent in early morning trading at Nasdaq Copenhagen.

The Maryland Transportation Authority closed all interstate traffic lanes on both sides of the bridge, rerouting traffic. The Maryland Port Administration has suspended all vessel traffic through the Port of Baltimore until further notice, though the port remains open.

The bridge, locally referred to as The Key Bridge, was constructed in 1977 and named in honor of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the author of the national anthem. It spans a vital artery for the Port of Baltimore, a major East Coast shipping hub.

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