Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses On March 26: Latest Updates 

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The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, collapsed due to the Dali container ship, causing a massive emergency response and significant damage to the bridge, a vital cargo port in Maryland. 

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses
Source: Google [Image by The Hindu]

Following a collision with a container ship, the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, nearly completely collapsed on March 26. This prompted a massive emergency response for at least seven people, possibly construction workers, who were thought to be in the water. When the vehicles started to fall into the icy waters, rescuers were looking for at least seven victims.

At a press conference, James Wallace, the chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department, stated that the Key Bridge collapsed at 1:30 a.m. due to a vessel leaving the Port of Baltimore striking it. When the impact occurred, multiple cars were on the bridge and were thrown into the Patapsco River. Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace reports that two people—one critically injured—were pulled from the waters beneath the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

In the early hours of the search, according to Wallace, two people were saved. He said the other was still in “very serious condition,” while the first one was unharmed. Wallace pointed out that while there were at least seven people thought to be in the water, it’s unclear if those figures included the two who were saved. Searches are being conducted by air, land, and sea.

The extensive search is being coordinated by numerous local, state, and federal agencies, Wallace said. It encompasses the ship itself and a good deal of the river, both above and below the water’s surface. The river where the bridge collapsed is about 50 feet deep, and several vehicles that were submerged there were located using sonar technology, helicopters, and divers.


Alternate routes around the collapsed Baltimore bridge

The Maryland Transportation Authority advises motorists hoping to avoid the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge along Interstate 695 to instead travel on Interstates 95 or 895. “Inner Loop closed at MD 157/Peninsula Exp (exit 43) and I-695 Outer Loop closed at MD 10 (exit 2),” the MDTA stated in a post on X, the former Twitter platform.

There are a few other, longer routes that drivers can take to avoid Baltimore, but the most direct options across the water are I-95 (the Fort McHenry Tunnel) and I-895 (the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel).

Key Bridge collapse draws comparisons to Florida’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge collapse

A ship struck a Florida bridge in 1980, causing it to collapse as well, killing 35 drivers and passengers on a bus. After hitting one of the main support foundations of the Sunshine Skyway bridge, which links Bradenton and St. Petersburg, the enormous Summit Venture freighter caused a 1,200-foot section of the bridge to collapse. A truck, seven automobiles, and a Greyhound bus were swept away when the bridge section collapsed into Tampa Bay.

How vital is the Francis Scott Key Bridge?

Southwest of Baltimore, the four-lane bridge extends 1.6 miles (2.6 km) over the Patapsco River. Since its opening in 1977, it has handled over 11 million vehicles annually, or about 31,000 each day. It is a significant portion of the road system surrounding Baltimore, an industrial city close to Washington, D.C., on the US East Coast. The port authority of the city claims that Baltimore is among the busiest cargo ports in the country, handling project cargo, automobiles, containers, and forest products valued at billions of dollars. The steel-arched bridge is currently the second longest in the United States and the third longest worldwide, but when it was built, it was the second-longest continuous truss bridge span in the world, according to the society. Its total length is 8,636 feet.

What happened in the bridge collapse in Baltimore?

According to a statement from the company, the container vessel was chartered by the large shipping company Maersk and was transporting its cargo. The vessel, owned by Grace Ocean Pte in Singapore and operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group, carried no Maersk crew or personnel when it crashed into the bridge. According to the international ship tracking service MarineTraffic, the Dali was scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka early next month.

According to Synergy Marine Corp., there have been no reports of injuries after the Dali struck one of the bridge’s pillars. All of the crew, including the two pilots, have been confirmed safe.

The Port of Baltimore is still open for truck transports, but all vessel traffic into and out of the port has been suspended until further notice, according to Wiedefeld.

Baltimore bridge collapse: Latest updates

1. One of the busiest arteries in the country, the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, will be fully rebuilt at no cost to the government, according to US President Joe Biden.

2. Wes Moore, the governor of Maryland, stated that just before the collision destroyed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, the ship’s crew issued a mayday call, allowing authorities to restrict traffic on the span. Moore declared, “These people are heroes.” “They prevented deaths last night.”

3. The mission was changed from search and rescue to search and recovery, according to Colonel Roland L. Butler Jr. He said that the search was on hold and that divers would visit the location again on Wednesday at six in the morning when the difficult conditions from the previous night might clear up.

4. The six persons who are still missing, according to the state’s transportation secretary Paul Wiedefeld, were working on a bridge repair project when they became visible.

5. Given the depth of the water and the amount of time that had passed since the crash, Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, the company that employed the workers, stated on Tuesday afternoon that they were assumed to be dead.

6. Two people have been pulled out of the water by the rescuers. A patient received hospital treatment and was released a few hours later. 

7. When the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived on the scene, they declared that there was no solid evidence pointing to terrorism.

8. Based on information from Marine Traffic, the Dali was flying under the Singapore flag and was traveling from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The website states that the container ship is roughly 48 meters wide and 300 meters long.

9. Although a June inspection revealed a problem with Dali’s machinery, a more recent review turned up no flaws, according to the shipping information system Equasis.

10. According to Bloomberg, the Baltimore bridge is expected to halt the port’s coal exports for up to six weeks and prevent the transportation of up to 2.5 million tons of coal, according to Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC. Baltimore is the second-largest coal terminal in the United States, with approximately 74 million tons exported by the country last year.

11. Synergy Maritime Group, the shipping company, had earlier said in a statement that all 22 of the people on board were Indian.


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