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Baltimore Key Bridge collapse: cargo vessel collision leads to vehicles plunging into water

Baltimore key bridge

A major bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, experienced a catastrophic collapse after a container ship collided with it early Tuesday morning, causing multiple vehicles to fall into the water below.

According to the Baltimore fire department, rescue operations are underway as they search for at least seven individuals believed to be in the water following the collision with the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Reports indicate that a 948-foot Singapore-flagged container ship, departing from port en route to Sri Lanka, struck the bridge, resulting in a "mass casualty event" with up to 20 people and several vehicles falling into the Patapsco River.

A video capturing the incident showed the vessel striking one of the bridge's central supports, leading to a substantial portion of the 2.6-kilometer bridge collapsing, and vehicles plummeting into the river. The collision caused the ship to catch fire, with thick, black smoke billowing into the air.

Rescue efforts have resulted in the retrieval of two individuals, one of whom is severely injured and in critical condition, according to officials. The temperature of the river at the time of the incident was approximately 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius), reported The Guardian.

Jagged remnants of the steel frame of the bridge were visible protruding from the water near the bridge's entrance, indicating the extent of the damage. All lanes of the bridge have been closed in both directions, with traffic being detoured.

The Baltimore fire department's communications director, Kevin Cartwright, described the collapse as a "developing mass casualty event," emphasizing the urgent need to rescue and recover those affected. The rescue operation is complicated by the presence of dangling cargo or retainers from the bridge, creating hazardous conditions.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore confirmed the involvement of the Singapore-flagged vessel and pledged to cooperate with US authorities in the investigation. The shipping company Maersk, which chartered the container ship, expressed horror at the incident and confirmed that all 22 crew members, who are Indian nationals, were safe.

As rescue efforts continue, Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency and assured the deployment of federal resources. The White House stated that senior officials are coordinating with local authorities and offering federal assistance as needed.

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, constructed in 1977 and named after the author of the American national anthem, has prompted a unified response from local and federal agencies to address the aftermath of this tragic event.

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