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Bridge collapses after snag-hit freighter rams it in US; 6 missing


BALTIMORE: A massive freight ship stacked high with containers smashed into a bridge while sailing out of Baltimore early on Tuesday, sending cars and people into the river below and closing one of the busiest ports on the US eastern seaboard.
The entire 22-member crew of the cargo ship, Dali, are Indians who alerted authorities about a “power issue” before the collision.Rescuers pulled out two survivors, one of whom was hospitalised, and were searching for more in the Patapsco river after huge metal spans of the 2.6km Francis Scott Key Bridge crumpled into the icy water at around 1.30am.
Officials halted the flow of traffic on the bridge between the mayday call and the collision, Maryland governor Wes Moore said at a briefing. “By being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives last night,” he said.Eight people were on the bridge at the time and six remained unaccounted for, the state’s transportation secretary said hours after the collision, which closed one of the busiest ports in US. A preliminary investigation pointed to an accident, Moore said, and there were no credible reports of terrorism. Ship traffic was suspended at Baltimore port until further notice.
Ship may’ve had a full power failure before collision: Report
The closure of one of the US East Coast’s major ports threatens to disrupt supplies of goods from cars, to coal and other commodities like sugar. It could create bottlenecks and increase delays and costs on the eastern seaboard, experts say. The port handles the most car imports and is among the largest for coal exports. More than 40 ships remained inside Baltimore port, including small cargo ships, tug boats and pleasure craft.


The 288.95m vessel, as long as three football pitches placed end to end, had experienced a momentary loss of propulsion and dropped anchors as part of emergency procedures before impact, its management company, Synergy Marine Pte Ltd reported. Some sources say there may have been a blackout on the ship – full power failure – leading to vessel being “not under command” or NUC. “It seems they did have partial power after first blackout and then they suffered another full blackout. Then it was already too late for the captain or the pilot to take any action,” marine industry sources in the US told TOI. The same ship was involved in an accident in the port of Antwerp in 2016, when it hit a quay as it tried to exit the North Sea container terminal.
Work crews had been repairing potholes on the bridge at the time of the collapse and sonar detected vehicles under the water, which was about 50 feet deep at that point, said Paul Wiedefeld, Maryland secretary of transportation. The bridge was up to code and there were no known structural issues, Maryland governor Wes Moore said.
From 1960 to 2015, there were 35 major bridge collapses worldwide due to ship or barge collisions, with a total of 342 people killed, according to a 2018 report from the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure. Eighteen of those collapses happened in the US.
Among them were a 2002 incident in which a barge struck the Interstate 40 bridge over the Arkansas River in Oklahoma, sending vehicles plunging into the water. Fourteen people died. In 2001, a tugboat and barge struck the Queen Isabella Causeway in Port Isabel, Texas, causing a section of the bridge to collapse. Eight people were killed. In 1993, barges being pushed by a towboat in dense fog hit and displaced the Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge near Mobile, Alabama. Minutes later, an Amtrak train with 220 people on board reached the displaced bridge and derailed, killing 47.

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