Stunning footage: Nightmare 1.6 mile bridge collapse causes mass casualties in Maryland

A South Asia-bound vessel’s “strike” of a Maryland bridge set the structure collapsing into the water as emergency crews responded to a “developing mass casualty event.”

Just before 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, a livestream of the Francis Scott Key Bridge spanning the Patapsco River captured the moments a container vessel appeared to lose power and veer off course. With black smoke belching from the ship, it collided with a structure for the I-695 span sending the bridge and the vehicles traversing it into the water.

“This is a dire emergency. Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,” Baltimore Fire Department director of communications Kevin Cartwright told The Associated Press as estimates suggested around 20 people may have gone into the river near the Baltimore Harbor.

Speaking with CNN about the “developing mass casualty event,” Cartwright said of the 1.6 mile bridge that was erected in 1977, “This bridge has been in place for quite some time and has served many, many commuters in the Baltimore metropolitan area. So as the investigation ensues, there will be structural engineers involved to try and assess what the condition of the bridge is.”

“This is a very devastating incident in which these individuals have encountered so our hearts go out to each and every one of them, and we will be working valiantly throughout the early morning to address this,” he continued. “We are in the midst of managing a mass casualty multi agency incident here.”

With temperatures around 30°F at the time of the incident, the spokesman added, “Unfortunately, we understand that there are up to 20 individuals who may be in the Patapsco River as well as multiple vehicles.”

The multi-agency effort included action from the U.S. Coast Guard as spokesman Petty Officer First Class Matthew West told NBC News, “USCG has deployed three response boats, and pollution responders are en route.”

Initial reports confirmed that “Dali,” the vessel that struck the bridge, was flying under a Singapore flag and had left Baltimore en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the time, it remained unknown what had caused the ship to veer off course.

Public officials including Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D), Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D) and others asserted that they were in contact with emergency personnel and that a full briefing was forthcoming Tuesday morning as the Maryland Transportation Authority worked to redirect traffic for the roughly 11 million crossings over the bridge each day.

Moore declared a State of Emergency within hours of the incident.

Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on X, “I’ve spoken with Gov. Moore and Mayor Scott to offer USDOT’s support following the vessel strike and collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge. Rescue efforts remain underway and drivers in the Baltimore area should follow local responder guidance on detours and response.”

Likewise, County Executive Johnny Olszewski posted, “We are closely monitoring the ongoing situation at the Key Bridge.”

“I remain in contact with our emergency response team as well as state and local partners, including @MayorBMScott and @AACoExec. Response efforts are ongoing. Our prayers remain with all those impacted,” he added.

Kevin Haggerty


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