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What to know about the Baltimore Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse


The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed around 1:40 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday after being hit by a cargo ship, with large parts of the bridge falling into the Patapsco River.

The Baltimore Fire Department has labeled the incident a “mass casualty event.” Rescuers were searching for several people, and vehicles were detected in the water.

Here’s what we know so far.

What caused the Baltimore bridge to collapse?

A Singapore-flagged vessel, the 948-foot Dali, crashed into the Key Bridge about 1:30 a.m. Eastern time, Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew West said in Baltimore.

Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority said Tuesday evening local time that it was investigating the collision and providing “full cooperation” to the U.S. Coast Guard. The authority, which regulates marine services in Singapore, confirmed that a Singapore-registered vessel struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge around 1:30 a.m. Eastern. There were 22 crew members on board during the collision, it said.

It is not clear why the collision led to the collapse. Officials said it was too early to provide further details.

Ian Firth, a British structural engineer and bridge designer, said in an interview Tuesday that the bridge had a “lightweight” support structure and appeared to have vessel protection devices in the water around it but that the objects were “not adequate.”

What do we know about casualties from the Key Bridge collapse?

The Francis Scott Key Bridge rests partially collapsed after a container ship ran into it early Tuesday in Baltimore. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Baltimore authorities said rescue efforts were still underway Tuesday morning and that they were treating the incident as a potential mass casualty event.

“There were likely multiple people on the bridge at the time of the collapse,” Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace told a news conference. He said two people have been removed from the water so far. One was uninjured and another was transported to a local trauma center in a “very serious condition,” he said.

Wallace said at least seven people were in the water. Kevin Cartwright, the Baltimore Fire Department’s director of communications, previously told The Washington Post that the number could be as high as 20 people.

“Our sonar has detected the presence of vehicles submerged in the water,” Wallace said, without giving a number.

What are search and rescue conditions at Key Bridge like?

Wallace said authorities were using subsurface search tools including sonar and underwater drones as well as marine and aerial support in the rescue efforts.

He added that frigid temperatures at the scene were making conditions difficult for rescuers.

The 1.6-mile-long bridge spans the Patapsco River as it runs from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor out to the Chesapeake Bay. It carries about 11 millions vehicles annually and was opened in 1977, named after Francis Scott Key, composer of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

What is the impact on Baltimore traffic conditions?

Hours after the collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore, traffic on area roadways remained moderate. Interstate 695 eastbound and westbound were closed at the bridge, regional traffic officials said, with the outer loop diverted to MD-10 at Exit 2 and the inner loop diverted to MD-157 at Exit 43.

Officials said commuters should use alternate harbor crossings via Interstate 95 and Interstate 895 and be aware of size and HAZMAT restrictions.

The Maryland Department of Transportation posted a list of affected bus routes. Baltimore Harbor was closed to shipping traffic, officials said.

What do we know about the container ship Dali that hit the bridge?

Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority said there were 22 crew members on board during the collision. Wallace said the crew was believed to still be on the vessel. The cargo ship is about 48 meters (157 feet) wide and 300 meters (984 feet) long and was built in 2015, according to MarineTraffic.com.

The container ship was en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka, according to Vessel Finder, which tracks global shipping, and had been due to arrive on April 22. Before Baltimore, it had called at ports in Norfolk and New York in the United States after traversing the Panama Canal.

The registered owner of the ship is Grace Ocean Pte Ltd., and it is managed by Synergy Marine Group. Synergy Group controls a fleet of nearly 400 vessels and employs more than 14,000 seafarers, according to its website.

In 2023, a tanker partly managed by Synergy collided with a tanker off the coast of the Philippines, killing two seafarers: a Filipino national and a Chinese national, according to Philippine coast guard officials.

The headquarters of the Singapore-based Synergy Group was dark when a Post reporter visited Tuesday evening local time. Two employees who answered the doorbell said the office was closed for the day. “No questions,” said one employee, slowly backing away from the door as his phone rang repeatedly.

Jennifer Hassan contributed to this report.

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