Baltimore bridge collapse sends vehicles tumbling into water

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A view of the Dali cargo vessel which crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge causing it to collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 26. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson

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BALTIMORE, March 26 (Reuters) – A massive cargo ship crippled by a loss of power smashed into a bridge while sailing out of Baltimore Harbor early on Tuesday, sending vehicles and people into the river below and closing one of the busiest ports on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore said at least six people were still missing hours after the Singapore-flagged container vessel named Dali, bound for Sri Lanka, knocked down a large section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge about 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT).
Rescuers pulled two survivors to safety, one of whom was hospitalized, and searched for more in the Patapsco River after huge metal spans of the 1.6-mile (2.57 km) bridge crumpled into the icy water.
The ship reported a power failure before impact, which enabled officials to stop traffic on the bridge before the collapse.
“By being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives last night,” Moore said at an earlier briefing. The bridge was up to code and there were no known structural issues, Moore said.
There was no evidence of foul play, officials said.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described a scene of twisted metal shooting into the sky.
“It was something out of an action movie. It was something you never thought you’d see,” he said.
A live video posted on YouTube showed the ship plowing into the bridge in darkness. The headlights of vehicles could be seen on the bridge as it crashed into the water and the ship caught fire.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said closure of one of the country’s busiest shipping lanes until further notice would have a protracted impact on supply chains. The Port of Baltimore handles more automobile cargo than any other U.S. port – more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022, according to port data.
General Motors (GM.N), opens new tab and Ford Motor (F.N), opens new tab will reroute affected shipments, but the companies said the impact would be minimal.
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.
Eight people were on the bridge at the time, and the governor said at an afternoon briefing, “We still have the six individuals who are missing.”
The 948-foot (288.95 m) vessel, as long as three football fields 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, according to the Singapore Port Authority.
The Dali, owned by Grace Ocean Pte Ltd, rammed into one of the pillars of the bridge, according to manager Synergy. All 22 crew members aboard the vessel were accounted for, it said.
The closure also threatened to disrupt supplies of goods ranging from coal to sugar. It could create bottlenecks and increase delays and costs on the Eastern seaboard, experts say.
President Joe Biden said the U.S. Coast Guard responded quickly to the mayday call and commended the fast action of Maryland transportation officials who shut the bridge before it was struck and “undoubtedly saved lives.”

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