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26 Mar, 2024 07:29

US bridge collapses after being hit by ship (VIDEO)

Authorities have warned of a ‘developing mass casualty event’
US bridge collapses after being hit by ship (VIDEO)

A four-lane bridge in the US state of Maryland has collapsed after being hit by a ship. A large section of the 1.6-mile (2.6 km) long Francis Scott Key Bridge fell into the Patapsco River, state authorities have confirmed.

The incident happened at around 1:30 am, according to AP. Clips posted on X (formerly Twitter) show several sections of the bridge going down, with multiple vehicles cascading some 55 metres into the water. 

“Multiple people” were on the bridge when it collapsed, the chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department, James Wallace, said during a press conference.

Two people have been rescued from the water so far. One of them refused medical care, while the other is in “very serious condition,” Wallace said. The search continues for “upwards of seven people,” he added.

During the same press conference, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described the collapse as an “unthinkable tragedy.” The efforts of the authorities are now focused on “folks we have to try to find and save,” he stated.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said that collapse is being treated as an accident, stressing that “there’s absolutely no indication it was intentional.”

The Maryland Transportation Authority said that all lanes in both directions were closed and traffic is being detoured.

Baltimore City Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright confirmed earlier that the bridge had been struck by “a large vessel” and partially collapsed.

In a separate comment to AP, Cartwright described the situation as a “developing mass casualty event.” He went on to say it appears that there are “some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,” which complicates the work of the rescuers, making them operate more cautiously. “This is a dire emergency,” he added.

The vessel that caused the collapse was the Singapore-flagged container ship Dali, its management company, Synergy Marine Group, confirmed. The cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the company said, adding that the ship was under the control of two pilots when it hit one of the pillars of the bridge. There were no injuries aboard the Dali, with all crew member accounted for, it added.

Shipping giant Maersk, which chartered the Dali, said it was “horrified” by the incident in Baltimore. “Our thoughts are with all of those affected,” the Danish company stressed.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency following the collapse of the bridge. “We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden administration” for the rescue effort, a statement by Moore read.

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on X that he had spoken to Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, offering them the support of his agency.

The White House stated that it is closely monitoring the events in Baltimore and expressed condolences to the families of those missing as a result of the “horrific incident.” The US Coast Guard is conducting a search for those who remain unaccounted for after the collapse, it said in a statement.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was opened in 1977 and serves as the outermost crossing of the Baltimore harbor.

RT

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