Six People Presumed Dead After Baltimore Key Bridge Collapses

Six individuals are missing and presumed dead after a container ship collided with the landmark Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, USA.

As the vessel struck a support, causing the collapse of the bridge that spans over 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles), several vehicles were on it. Moments before the crash, officials noted the ship encountered a “power issue” and sent out a distress signal.

An extensive search and rescue operation involving boats and helicopters was launched for the six unaccounted-for individuals, while two were rescued from the water, one in critical condition.

The US Coast Guard’s Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath indicated the missing are likely deceased, given the cold water temperature and time elapsed since the incident.

The individuals were reportedly doing construction work on the bridge when it was struck and collapsed.

The container ship Dali, registered in Singapore, collided with a bridge support at around 1:30 am local time, causing significant damage.

The ship set sail from the Port Breeze terminal around 00:45, heading towards Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. A federal agency in the US reported that the ship experienced propulsion failure as it departed from the port.

Following this, the crew alerted Maryland’s transportation authorities about a potential impending collision, as detailed in a report by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Governor Wes Moore of Maryland verified that the crew had reported a power malfunction, leading to the ship’s collision with a bridge support column.

Officials reported several vehicles, including one as large as a tractor-trailer, fell into the water below in the aftermath.

The Baltimore Fire Department, the US Coast Guard, and other Maryland state agencies were involved in the rescue operation.

Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace announced that two individuals were rescued, with one being “transported to a local trauma center in a very serious condition”.

Wallace also noted that the tide significantly hampered the rescue efforts. Additionally, the rescue teams faced the challenge of bitterly cold conditions, with the air temperature around 3°C (37.4°F) near the bridge.

Mayor Brandon Scott of Baltimore referred to the event as a heartrending tragedy, emphasizing that the immediate priority should be the rescue of those in the water.

Paul Wiedefeld, the Maryland Transportation Secretary, stated that engineers are assessing the structural damage caused by the collapse.

The Synergy Marine Group reported that the ship had 22 crew members aboard, including an all-Indian crew and two local Baltimore port pilots, with no injuries reported.

The company is working with federal authorities to ascertain the exact cause of the incident, according to their statement.

Maersk, the shipping behemoth that had chartered the vessel, expressed its devastation over the Baltimore incident, extending thoughts to everyone impacted. The statement clarified that no Maersk crew or personnel were on the ship.