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Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision; rescues underway

Baltimore police said they were notified about the bridge collapse at approximately 1:40 a.m. Tuesday.
Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision, rescues underway
Posted at 9:20 AM, Mar 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-26 11:20:31-04

Emergency crews are still searching for at least six victims in the Patapsco River after a cargo ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing it to collapse. 

The collision sent the bridge plummeting into the water below within seconds, along with members of a construction crew that were filling potholes at the time of the collapse. 

Baltimore police said they were notified of a bridge collapse at approximately 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. They received calls of  "multiple people in the water.” 

Baltimore fire officials initially said at least 20 cars fell into the water below and described the incident as a "mass casualty event." However, during a 9:30 a.m. ET press conference, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said officials were able to stop traffic on the bridge after receiving a mayday distress from the ship, so it's not clear how many, if any, vehicles plummeted into the water.

Officials said recovering any people in the water remains a top priority, but conditions for rescuers are risky with debris hanging from the bridge. 

Police said two construction crew members were rescued as of 6:30 a.m. ET. One refused treatment and was unharmed. Another was in serious condition and transported to a local trauma center. 

"The Coast Guard's primary mission right now is search and rescue looking for any survivors in the water.," said Lt. Commander Erin Palmer, Coast Guard Sector Maryland. "On scene, we currently have three small boats. We also have coast Guard cutter, Mako, an 87 foot patrol boat. We have a helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City and we're working with numerous federal state and local partners on scene on these search and rescue efforts."

Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said they are in close communication with other officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“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,” Buttigieg posted on X. 

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The White House reacted to Tuesday's incident and said that President Joe Biden is being briefed on the incident.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those who remain missing as a result of this horrific incident," a White House official said in a statement. "The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting search and rescue for those who remain unaccounted for as a result of the bridge collapse. Senior White House officials are in touch with the Governor and Mayor to offer any federal assistance they need. There is no indication of any nefarious intent."

The 1.6-mile long bridge spans the Patapsco River as part of I-695, which is south of downtown Baltimore.

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