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A view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson

A view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson

Baltimore Bridge Collapse – What We Know So Far

Reuters
Total Views: 18752
March 26, 2024
  • Owners and managers of the Singapore-flagged container ship “DALI” report that the vessel collided with one of the pillars of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, while under pilotage with two pilots onboard, at approximately 01 30 local time on 26th March.
  • Maryland Gov: “The Preliminary investigation points to an accident” and there was no credible evidence of terrorism
  • Eight people on the bridge at the time of collision, six remain unaccounted for, Maryland’s state’s transportation sec. said
  • The bridge was up to code and there were no known structural issues, Gov. Moore said
  • President Biden was being briefed on the collision, the White House said.
  • Nighttime collision closes busy US port
  • Work crews on bridge at time of collision
  • Sonar detects cars under water

By Andy Sullivan, Joseph Campbell and Gabriella Borter

Reuters

BALTIMORE, March 26 (Reuters) – A 948-foot container ship smashed into a four-lane bridge in the U.S. port of Baltimore in darkness early on Tuesday, causing it to collapse and sending cars and people plunging into the river below.

Rescuers pulled out two survivors, one in very serious condition, and were searching for more in the Patapsco River after huge spans of the 1.6-mile (2.57 km) Francis Scott Key Bridge crumpled into the water.

Also Read: Ship Lost Control Before Hitting Baltimore Bridge

The ship reported a power issue and officials halted the flow of traffic on the bridge between the mayday call and the collision, Maryland Governor Wes Moore said at a briefing.

“By being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives last night,” he said.

Eight people were on the bridge at the time of the collision and six remain unaccounted for, the state’s transportation secretary saidhours after the collision, which closed one of the busiest ports in the United States.

The preliminary investigation pointed to an accident, Moore said, and there were no credible reports of terrorism.

Ship traffic was suspended at the Port of Baltimore until further notice. It is the busiest U.S. port for car shipments, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022, according to port data.

The closure of one of the U.S. East Coast’s major ports threatens to disrupt supplies of goods from cars, to coal and other commodities like sugar. It could create bottlenecks and increase delays and costs on the Eastern seaboard, experts say. The port handles the most car imports and is among the largest for coal exports. 

The 948-foot (288.95 m) vessel, as long as three football pitches placed end to end, had experienced a momentary loss of propulsion and dropped anchors as part of emergency procedures before impact, its management company, Synergy Marine Pte Ltd reported, according to the Singapore Port Authority.

The Dali, owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd, collided with one of the pillars of the bridge, according to manager Synergy. All 22 crew members aboard the Singapore-flagged vessel were accounted for, it said.

Vessel Information:

  • Name: Dali
  • Capacity: 10,000 TEU
  • Onboard Units: 4,679 TEU
  • DWT:116,851.
  • Crew: All Indian, 22 in total
  • Owner: Grace Ocean Private Ltd
  • Movement: Outbound from Baltimore to Colombo

After Midnight

The U.S. Coast Guard reported the collapse at 1:27 a.m. and crews were deployed for an active search and rescue mission after the Singapore-flagged container ship forced the trellis-like bridge up into a mangled mass of metal.

President Joe Biden was being briefed on the collision and there was no indication of nefarious intent, the White House said.

Work crews had been on the bridge at the time of the collapse and sonar detected vehicles under the water, which was about 50 feet deep at that point, said Paul Wiedefeld, Maryland Secretary of Transportation.

Jayme Krause was in the midst of another night shift at her workplace on shore when the cart of packages in front of her shook violently at around 2 a.m.. A coworker told her the bridge had collapsed and she ran out to look.

“I went over there, and sure as anything, it was gone, the whole bridge was just like, there was nothing there,” she told Reuters in an interview. “It was a shocking sight to see.”

The ship “lost propulsion” as it was leaving port, and crew on board notified Maryland officials they had lost control of the vessel, ABC News reported, citing an unclassified U.S. intelligence report.

Traffic was suspended at the Port of Baltimore until further notice, Maryland transportation authorities said. It is the busiest U.S. port for car shipments, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022, according to port data.

The closure of one of the U.S. East Coast’s major ports threatens to disrupt supplies of goods from cars, to coal and other commodities like sugar. It could create bottlenecks and increase delays and costs on the Northeastern seaboard, experts say. The port handles the most car imports and is among the largest for coal exports. 

MAJOR THOROUGHFARE

The Francis Scott Key bridge was the main thoroughfare for drivers between New York and Washington who sought to avoid downtown Baltimore. It was one of three ways to cross the Baltimore Harbor, with a traffic volume of 31,000 cars per day or 11.3 million vehicles a year.

The ship was identified as the Dali, owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and managed by Synergy Marine Corp. Synergy said the Dali collided with one of the pillars of the bridge and that all its crew members, including the two pilots, had been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described a scene of twisted metal shooting into the sky. “It was something out of an action movie. It was something you never thought you’d see,” he said.

Kevin Cartwright, the spokesperson for Baltimore City Fire Department, earlier told Reuters that as many as 20 people could be in the river along with cars and possibly a tractor-trailer.

“This is a mass-casualty, multi-agency event,” he said. “This operation is going to extend for many days.”

A live video posted on YouTube showed the ship ploughing into the bridge in darkness. The headlights of vehicles could be seen on the bridge as it crashed into the water and the ship caught fire. 

RARE EVENT

An aerial view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024, in this still image taken from a video.  ABC AFFILIATE WJLA via REUTERS.
An aerial view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024, in this still image taken from a video. ABC AFFILIATE WJLA via REUTERS

Tuesday’s disaster may be the worst U.S. bridge collapse since 2007 when the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13.

It was the first major collapse of a bridge from a ship impact in about 40 or 50 years, David Knight, a specialist at the Institution of Civil Engineers, told Reuters. 

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency to quickly deploy federal resources to deal with the emergency. The FBI in Baltimore said on X its personnel were on the scene.

It was not immediately clear if any other vessels had been damaged or whether operations had halted to and from the port, shipping and insurance sources said.

The Dali was time chartered by shipping company Maersk at the time of the incident, the Danish company said in a statement. No Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel.

“We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected,” Maersk said.

Baltimore 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 port handles imports and exports for major automakers including Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and the Volkswagen group – including luxury models for Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley.

More than 40 ships remained inside Baltimore port including small cargo ships, tug boats and pleasure craft, data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic showed. At least 30 other ships had signaled their destination was Baltimore, the data showed.

Also read: Port Of Baltimore – Key Facts And Figures

The bridge, named after Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner, opened in 1977. 

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia, Harshita Meenaktshi, Shreya Biswas, Jyoti Narayan and Swati Verma in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Christian Schmollinger, Arpan Daniel Varghese, Rich McKay and David Shepardson; Writing by Ros Russell; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Philippa Fletcher, Gerry Doyle Nick Macfie and Franklin Paul)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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