Baltimore Bridge Collapse – Ship Strike Decimates I-695 Key Bridge

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cargo ship crashes into key bridge port of baltimore
The Dali cargo ship crashes into the I-695 Francis Scott Key Bridge at about 1:30 a.m. March 26 on its way to Colombia.
Rescue 1 team, Baltimore City Fire Department

A cargo ship leaving the Port of Baltimore early morning March 26 crashed into a pillar on the I-695/Francis Scott Key Bridge causing the bridge to collapse.

The 1.6-mile steel-arched bridge had a construction crew and multiple vehicles on it when it crashed into the Patapsco River.

Video footage of the event from a live-stream camera at the port channel shows the Dali cargo ship striking a bridge pillar at about 1:30 a.m. Immediately the four-lane span above collapsed, then the two other central spans crashed into the water. The complete collapse occurred in less than 1 minute.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld, who called the incident a "catastrophic collapse," reported that a crew, made up of contractors for the Maryland Transportation Authority, was patching potholes on the bridge at the time of the strike. Two people have been rescued, and six are still being searched for by rescue and dive teams. One of the rescued was not injured, while one was reportedly hospitalized with serious injuries.

steel trusses stick out of water after baltimore bridge collapseRescue Team 1, Baltimore City Fire DepartmentFive vehicles, including a cement truck, were also on the bridge and have been located with sonar, according to CNN. Rescue teams from various agencies continue to comb the waters. The FBI, National Transportation Safety Board and various agencies are investigating the cause of the collapse.

The FBI has issued a statement saying there is no evidence of terrorism. According to Maryland Governor Wes Moore, the ship sent a mayday warning right before the crash that it had lost propulsion and was headed toward the pillar.

The cargo boat had 22 crew members, none of which was injured. The ship, owned by Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd., was carrying 4,679 onboard units leaving Baltimore for Colombo, Sri Lanka. The ship was under contract by Maersk.

All shipping traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore has been halted, but truck traffic is still able to access, port officials say.

All vehicle traffic for the bridge has been rerouted to I-95 or I-895 tunnels under the Baltimore Harbor. The I-695 Outer Loop is closed at MD 10 (Exit 2), and the Inner Loop at MD 157 (Exit 43).

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pillar with bridge span collapsed below on baltimore i-695 key bridgeRescue Team 1, Baltimore City Fire DepartmentThe governor has declared a state of emergency and is seeking federal aid. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to visit the site. 

The Key Bridge opened in 1977 and is the second-longest continuous-truss span in the U.S. It is traveled on average by 31,000 vehicles a day.

A live stream of the bridge and the collapse can be seen here. (The crash occurs at time stamp 1:28:44.)