Baltimore’s Key Bridge Falls Down After Ship Hits It, ‘Mass Casualty Event’ Declared

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses after being struck by ship, ‘mass casualty event’ declared

The container ship that collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore issued a distress call indicating a loss of power before the tragic event, officials revealed on Tuesday.

Authorities stationed at the bridge acted swiftly, preventing cars from crossing the 1.6-mile span just in time, a move praised by Maryland Governor Wes Moore as life-saving.

“The ship signaled a loss of power. The bridge personnel stopped traffic moments before the collision, undoubtedly saving many lives,” Governor Moore stated during a press briefing.

Despite these efforts, six individuals from a construction crew engaged in road repair work, remain unaccounted for after multiple vehicles plunged into the cold waters of the Patapsco River as the bridge crumbled, its steel arches and roadway collapsing.

Rescuers managed to save two people, with one in critical condition. Divers continued their search for potential survivors throughout Tuesday morning.

Shocking footage captured the moment the bridge collapsed around 1:40 a.m. after the 980-foot Dali, a Singapore-flagged vessel bound for Sri Lanka, struck its central section shortly after departing from the Port of Baltimore.

The sheer size of the container ship, capable of carrying nearly 130,000 tons of cargo, overwhelmed the defenses of the 47-year-old Key Bridge.

“The container ship is comparable in width to the height of the bridge. The disparity is striking. It’s not a small vessel,” remarked Ben Schafer, a structural engineering professor at John’s Hopkins University.

Reports from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, obtained by ABC News, indicate that the container ship experienced propulsion failure as it left the port, with crew members alerting authorities to a potential collision. Videos preceding the crash showed fluctuations in the ship’s power.

Governor Moore confirmed during the press conference that the ship’s crew had reported power loss before the accident.

Baltimore's Key Bridge
Baltimore’s Key Bridge (Credits: Al Jazeera)

“The vessel notified Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) of losing control and the possibility of colliding with the bridge,” the report stated, “resulting in the complete collapse upon impact.”

Synergy Marine Group, the company operating the vessel, reported that two pilots and 22 Indian crew members were safe and uninjured. They pledged full cooperation with investigations into the incident.

“This is an unimaginable tragedy,” remarked Mayor Brandon Scott from the scene, following the declaration of a state of emergency. “To witness the Key Bridge collapse like that—it’s reminiscent of scenes from an action movie.”

The Baltimore City Fire Department confirmed that at least seven vehicles were unaccounted for, having fallen from the bridge. Rescuers, aided by sonar technology, continued their efforts to locate these vehicles.

Construction crew members were engaged in concrete and deck repairs at the time of the collision, as confirmed by Paul Wiedefeld, secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority.

While a strong diesel odor was detected, officials could not immediately confirm a significant fuel spill. The water temperature in the river was around 47 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the incident.

Baltimore's Key Bridge
Baltimore’s Key Bridge (Credits: Al Jazeera)

Kevin Cartwright, communications chief for the Baltimore City Fire Department, described the situation as a “developing mass casualty event,” with dive and rescue teams deployed to locate individuals in the water.

Governor Moore declared a state of emergency, mobilizing federal resources, with the FBI also present at the scene.

The calamity was captured and broadcasted via a YouTube livestream, showcasing the bridge’s collapse into the water.

The US Coast Guard and the Maryland Transportation Authority acknowledged the crash but provided no further details.

“All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured,” the Maryland Transportation Authority announced.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. urged prayers for those affected, stating, “Rescue efforts are underway.”

The department reported diesel fuel in the surrounding water.

The Singapore-flagged container ship, Dali, which collided with the bridge, had departed from Baltimore around 1 a.m. and was en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, according to MarineTraffic.

Multiple Coast Guard search and rescue vessels were observed circling the ship around 3 a.m.

Following the incident, all lanes were closed in both directions, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Named in honor of the writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the Key Bridge has been in operation since 1977.