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United States: Baltimore bridge collapses, hit by ship

  • March 26, 2024
  • 6
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united-states:-baltimore-bridge-collapses,-hit-by-ship

A major highway bridge in Baltimore, on the east coast of the United States, collapsed early Tuesday morning after being hit by a container ship, dragging down vehicles and people with its fall.

Rescuers are searching for at least seven people in the water and underwater around the huge twisted metal structure, in a spectacular deployment of resources including drones, helicopters and divers.

“Our sonar detected the presence of vehicles submerged in the water,” said James Wallace, the city’s fire chief. “I don’t have the number yet,” he added.

CCTV footage shows what appears to be a container ship hitting a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to fall into the river along with much of the structure’s metal structure.

We see lights that appear to be those of vehicles on the bridge, before it deforms and falls in pieces, around 1:30 a.m. local time (05:30 GMT).

United States: Baltimore bridge collapses, hit by ship

United States: a Baltimore bridge hit by a ship collapses / Paz PIZARRO, Sylvie HUSSON / AFP

“We were woken up by a kind of earthquake and a long, resounding crash,” said a local resident, whose windows overlook the bridge, quoted by CNN.

Among the potential victims are workers who worked on the structure, which spans the mouth of the Patapsco River.

“There is absolutely no indication that this was an act of terrorism, that this was a deliberate act,” said Baltimore Police Chief Richard Worley.

Crucial road axis

The four-lane bridge is 2.6 km long, southwest of Baltimore, a large American industrial and port city, in the state of Maryland, about 60 kilometers northeast of Washington.

United States: Baltimore bridge collapses, hit by ship

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being hit by a container ship on March 26, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland / ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

It is a crucial north/south axis for transportation and the economy of the east coast of the United States. It is named after a local son, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to the American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

All access to the bridge was blocked by a large deployment of police forces, noted an AFP journalist on site.

The governor of the US state of Maryland has declared a state of emergency. “We are working with a multi-agency team to rapidly deploy the Biden administration’s federal resources,” Governor Wes Moore told Network X.

Shipping traffic tracking site MarineTraffic showed a Singapore-flagged container ship named Dali stopped under the bridge early Tuesday.

Danish shipping giant Maersk confirmed it had chartered the vessel, operated by shipping company Synergy Group.

“We are horrified by what happened in Baltimore and we send our thoughts to those affected,” Maersk wrote in a statement.

United States: Baltimore bridge collapses, hit by ship

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after being hit by a container ship on March 26, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland / Jim WATSON / AFP

Managers of the Singapore-flagged ship said Tuesday that there were no injuries to crew members. “All crew members, including the two pilots, have been found and no injuries have been reported,” Synergy Marine Group wrote on its website.

The mayor of Baltimore spoke of “an inconceivable tragedy”. “We need to think about the families and the people affected, the people we need to look for, for now we are focusing on that,” added Brandon Scott in a press conference.