Baltimore bridge collapses after ship crashes into it, sending vehicles into water

Collapsed sections of the bridge seen on Tuesday morning. Photograph: AP

The Francis Scott Key Bridge − a major span critical to East Coast shipping − collapsed early Tuesday after it was struck by a large cargo ship, prompting a massive emergency response for at least seven people in the water.

James Wallace, chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department, said at a news conference that around 1:30 a.m. a vessel struck the Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the collapse. Several vehicles were on the bridge at the time of impact and were plunged into the Patapsco River.

Wallace said two people were rescued from the water. One was unharmed and the other is remains in “very serious condition,” he said. At least seven people were believed to be in the water, though, Wallace noted, it’s unclear whether that number includes the two who were rescued.

The crew that was on the ship when it collided with a bridge occurred remains on the vessel, which needs to be assessed for damage before rescuers can board it, Wallace said.

Multiple local, state and federal agencies are coordinating the massive search, which spans a vast section of the river – both above and below the surface of the water – and the ship itself, Wallace said. Divers, helicopters and sonar technology were being used and had located several vehicles submerged in the river.

“This water is current influenced, so right now we think the tide is coming back in,” he said.

Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland, declared a state of emergency and said he is working with an interagency team to “quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration.”

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“This is an unthinkable tragedy,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said at a news conference.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a major span over the Patapsco River in Baltimore, collapsed after it was struck by a Singapore-flagged container ship 'Dali'.
The Francis Scott Key Bridge, a major span over the Patapsco River in Baltimore, collapsed after it was struck by a Singapore-flagged container ship ‘Dali’

What happened in the bridge collapse in Baltimore?

Ship tracking data from LSEG shows a Singapore-flagged container ship, the Dali, at the location along the Key Bridge where the accident occurred. Reuters, citing LSEG data show, reported that the registered owner of the ship is Grace Ocean Pte Ltd. and is managed by Synergy Marine Group.

Synergy Marine Corp said the Dali collided with one of the pillars of the bridge and that all its crew members, including two pilots, have been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries.

USA TODAY contacted the U.S. Coast Guard for comment early Tuesday.

“All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge,” the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) said on X early Tuesday. “Traffic is being detoured.”

How vital is the Francis Scott Key Bridge?

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, named for the author of the “Star Spangled Banner,” is a 1.6-mile, 4-lane bridge that crosses over the Patapsco River, according to the MDTA. It opened in 1977.

The port’s private and public terminals handled 847,158 autos and light trucks in 2023, the most of any U.S. port. The port also handles farm and construction machinery, sugar, gypsum and coal, according to a Maryland government website.

The span is the outermost of three major Patapsco River crossings at Baltimore Harbor, according to the American Civil Engineering Society. The steel-arched bridge, with a total length of 8,636 feet, was the second-longest continuous-truss bridge span in the world when it was built and remains the second longest in the United States and third in the world, according to the society.