Ship Crash Collapses Major Highway Bridge in Baltimore

03:57 March 26, 2024

Ship Crash Collapses Major Highway Bridge in Baltimore

A container ship smashed into a major bridge in Baltimore, Maryland early Tuesday, causing it to collapse. The accident sent several vehicles and people into the river and closed one of the busiest ports in the United States.

A work crew was on the Francis Scott Key Bridge at the time of the collapse at about 5:30 UTC time. Rescuers pulled two survivors from the eight-degree Celsius water. Officials said they are still searching for six members of the crew and others believed to have been thrown into the water by the collapse. A state transportation official said radar identified vehicles under about 15 meters of water.

At an early morning news conference, Maryland Governor Wes Moore said the ship’s crew told officials that the ship had lost power shortly before it struck the bridge.

The 300-meter-long container ship is named Dali. The Dali is registered in Singapore. It had just left the port of Baltimore and was heading to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Synergy Marine Group, the ship owner, confirmed that the accident happened while the ship was under control of local pilots whose job it is to guide boats into and out of the port.

The ship smashed into one of the bridge’s supports, causing the whole structure to break apart like a toy. Video of the accident posted on social media shows parts of the bridge fell into the water almost immediately. The ship also reportedly caught fire with thick, black smoke rising. No one was hurt on the ship.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said, “Never would you think that you would see, physically see, the Key Bridge tumble down like that. It looked like something out of an action movie.”

The Key Bridge fell late at night when traffic was light. During the day, thousands of cars travel across the bridge. It is part of the U.S. interstate highway system.

A spokesman for the Baltimore Fire Department told The Associated Press that several vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. That included at least one large truck.

Maryland officials said Tuesday that all ship traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore would be suspended. They expected highway traffic along the East Coast of the U.S. to be disrupted for a long time.

Marine Traffic is a service that follows ship traffic. It reports that more than 40 ships, including small cargo ships and other boats, are still inside Baltimore Harbor. The data shows at least 30 other ships were planning to go to the port.

Last year, the Port of Baltimore handled a record 47 million metric tons of foreign cargo worth $80 billion. The port deals with more imports and exports for major car companies than any other port in the U.S. In addition to cargo, more than 444,000 passengers passed through the port in 2023 for pleasure trips.

I'm Dan Friedell.

Hai Do wrote this story based on reporting from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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