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Rescuers scramble to save dozens including 20 construction workers after Baltimore’s colossal Key Bridge collapsed when container ship crashed into it flinging ‘multiple’ cars and a semi-truck into the river amid fears of mass casualties

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Rescue workers in Baltimore are working furiously in an attempt to save the lives of dozens of people who were plunged into the frigid waters of the Patapsco River when the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being hit by a container ship. 

Initial reports indicate that at least a dozen cars hit the 47 degree water in addition to a 20 or so construction workers who were working on the bridge at the time. The workers were pouring concrete on to the bridge at the time of crash. 

At the first press conference around 6:30 am, Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace could only confirm that two people were pulled from the water. One was unhurt, the other had to be rushed to a local hospital with ‘serious injuries.’

Wallace said that workers are looking for ‘upwards of seven’ people but that the number of missing could change as the collapse is a ‘very large incident.’ The chief called the efforts a ‘search and rescue’ operation. 

At the same press conference, officials ruled out terrorism as relating to the cause of the crash.  

The rescue effort incorporates Coast Guard ships, local police boats, Baltimore’s Fire Department, volunteer fire departments from the surrounding areas as well as teams of divers as the desperate search for survivors goes on. 

There appeared to be an explosion on the container ship as it collided with the bridge sending container and diesel flooding into the water. One of the vehicles that fell to the water was a tractor-trailer. 

The ship involved is the 948 foot long Dali, a Singaporean-flagged container which could be seen on ship tracking websites positioned stationary under the bridge following the crash. 

It left Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal at 12:24am, at 1:25am, is began to slow and diverted off of its course. The video shows lights going off on board just before the crash. 

Astonishing footage shows the moment the vessel plowed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, sending the colossal steel structure crashing into the Patapsco River, shortly before 1.30am Eastern

Astonishing footage shows the moment the vessel plowed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, sending the colossal steel structure crashing into the Patapsco River, shortly before 1.30am Eastern

The moment the vessel collided with the huge steel structure, sending it crashing down

The moment the vessel collided with the huge steel structure, sending it crashing down

The bridge collapsing into the Patapsco River

The bridge collapsing into the Patapsco River

The bridge spans 9,000 feet across the Patapsco River and is 180 feet above the water

The bridge spans 9,000 feet across the Patapsco River and is 180 feet above the water

There were no immediate reports of any casualties but there did appear to be traffic on the bridge at the time of the catastrophe

There were no immediate reports of any casualties but there did appear to be traffic on the bridge at the time of the catastrophe

A livestream showed the disaster unfolding, with the vessel plowing into a pile holding up the central part of the bridge. The road and steel arches immediately tumble into the water

A livestream showed the disaster unfolding, with the vessel plowing into a pile holding up the central part of the bridge. The road and steel arches immediately tumble into the water

According to the ship’s owners, all crew members were accounted for with no injuries reported. The owners also said in a statement that: ‘There has been no pollution,’ according TradeWinds, a global shipping publication. 

The crew has remained on board the ship and are being questioned by members of the Coast Guard. 

The effort is a race against time due to the tide which is coming back in as of 6:30 am local time, Wallace said. 

Multiple boats marked as Coast Guard search and rescue vessels were surrounding the ship around 7am Eastern. The Coast Guard later said that ‘multiple response units deployed for active search and rescue.’

The astonishing moment when the bridge, which sits 180 feet above the river, collapsed was caught on camera. Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department, called the situation ‘a dire emergency.’ 

Governor Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency in Maryland in order for local officials to access funds from the Biden administration. The governor also said his office is in close contact with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. 

In the wake of the collapse, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth told the BBC that it appears as the the ship 'strayed' rather to the side rather than going under the center of the bridge

In the wake of the collapse, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth told the BBC that it appears as the the ship ‘strayed’ rather to the side rather than going under the center of the bridge

Around 30,000 vehicles use the bridge, which is named for the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, every day. It opened in 1977

Around 30,000 vehicles use the bridge, which is named for the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, every day. It opened in 1977

Around 30,000 vehicles use the bridge, which is named for the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, every day. It opened in 1977. 

‘Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,’ Cartwright said. He said it’s too early to know how many people were affected but called the collapse a ‘developing mass casualty event.’

Cartwright said it appears there are ‘some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,’ creating unsafe and unstable conditions, and that emergency responders are operating cautiously as a result.

Hypothermia can occur when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees. 

In the wake of the collapse, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth told the BBC that it appears as the the ship ‘strayed’ rather to the side rather than going under the center of the bridge. 

‘But for whatever reason it must have strayed off and has hit the support.’ 

‘The support is a very, relatively, flimsy structure when you look at it, it’s a kind of trestle structure with individual legs. So, the bridge has collapsed simply as a result of this very large impact force,’ he added. 

In a separate interview with CNN, Cartwright said that structural engineers will need to study the condition of the bridge prior to the incident. 

‘This is a very devastating incident in which these individuals have encountered so our hearts go out to each and every one of them, and we will be working valiantly throughout the early morning to address this,’ he said.  

The Dali ship was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s unclear what cargo it was holding. The vessel was due to land in Asia on April 27. At the time of writing, the 50 meter wide ship is marooned under the bridge.

It arrived in Baltimore from Norfolk on Monday having previously made journeys to New York City and Panama. 

The 1.6-mile bridge, which is part of I-695, crosses the Patapsco River in Baltimore’s harbor. Built in 1977, the main span of the truss bridge at 1,200ft is the third longest span of any continuous truss in the world.

The structure carries around 12million vehicles every year. It carries the Baltimore Beltway/Interstate 695 over the river. 

Baltimore’s port became internationally famous in 2003 when it was a key setting for the second season of HBO’s The Wire. 

The port handles $2.6 billion in business income and nearly $400 million in taxes, according to Maryland’s government. In 2023, the port handled 52.3 tons of cargo at a value of $80.8 billion.  

The 1.6-mile bridge, which is part of I-695, crosses the Patapsco River in Baltimore's harbor. Built in 1977, the main span of the truss bridge at 1,200ft is the third longest span of any continuous truss in the world

The 1.6-mile bridge, which is part of I-695, crosses the Patapsco River in Baltimore’s harbor. Built in 1977, the main span of the truss bridge at 1,200ft is the third longest span of any continuous truss in the world

The Dali container ship is pictured in a file photo off the Port of Felixstowe in the United Kingdom in September 2018

The Dali container ship is pictured in a file photo off the Port of Felixstowe in the United Kingdom in September 2018

One local official described the situation as a 'dire emergency'

One local official described the situation as a ‘dire emergency’

A picture showing the aftermath of the collapse as the sky begins to brighten in Baltimore, the Dali can be seen to the right with many containers still in tact

A picture showing the aftermath of the collapse as the sky begins to brighten in Baltimore, the Dali can be seen to the right with many containers still in tact 

Among those responding to the scene are the Harford County Fire and EMS as well as volunteer firefighters from the Volunteer Swift Water Team and the Harford County Department of Emergency Services’ Special Operations Team.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said in a tweet that his office is monitoring the situation and working with the mayor’s office and other local officials. ‘Our prayers remain with all those impacted,’ Olszweski said.  

Hours before the crash, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott delivered his annual state of the cit address in which he emphasized a clean-up of the city’s harbor in addition to fighting crime and poverty. 

‘Join me in this fight for the future and soul of our city, and show the world how beautiful Baltimore can be,’ he said. 



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