Baltimore bridge collapses after container ship collision

Major bridge in Baltimore collapses: Here's what to know

A major Baltimore bridge collapsed early Tuesday after it was hit by a large container ship.

Six people were missing after the collision at the Francis Scott Key Bridge, according to Paul Wiedefeld, Maryland’s transportation secretary. Two people were rescued, with one transported to a trauma center in serious condition. The missing people may have fallen into the water.

The bridge carries Interstate 695 across the Patapsco River, southeast of the Baltimore metropolitan area.

The ship, the DALI, hit the bridge at around 1:30 a.m. ET,  when contractors were working on the bridge, according to Wiedefeld. The missing people are believed to be the construction crew who were repairing potholes on the bridge.

The ship’s crew made a mayday call just before the crash which stopped cars from coming over the bridge, according to Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.

“These people are heroes,” Moore said. “They saved lives.”

Wiedefeld said the incident is an active search and rescue mission and that vessel traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore is suspended until further notice.

“This is a very large incident, it involves a very large footprint,” Baltimore City Fire Department Chief James W. Wallace said in a press briefing.

The National Transportation Safety Board launched a team to investigate the collapse, a spokesperson told CNBC.

An aerial view of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge after a collision with a cargo ship in Baltimore, Maryland, United States on March 26, 2024.

Lokman Vural Elibol | Anadolu | Getty Images

Sonar scans detected the presence of submerged vehicles, but could not disclose the number of cars involved, the fire department chief said.

“The latest information we have on the crew of the ship is that they still are on board of the ship,” Wallace said, adding that rescue agents must first do a damage assessment of the vessel before being able to board. Asked if the ship was suffering any technical impairments, he said, “We do not have that information.”

Maryland officials and the FBI said there is no information to suggest the collapse was a result of terrorism.

“The preliminary investigation points to an accident,” Moore said. “We haven’t seen any credible evidence of a terrorist attack.”

Completed in 1977, the bridge took the name of Francis Scott Key, whose poem was the foundation of the U.S. national anthem.

About 35,000 people use the bridge every day, according to Wiedefeld. Drivers in the area will have to use the far-busier Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels to cross the harbor for the foreseeable future.

Moore said the priority now is on search and rescue, but that the rebuilding of the bridge will be a long-term project.

“We are going to make sure that this is not just not just rebuilt, but that we are going to rebuild in a way that remembers the people who this tragedy has impacted,” Moore said.

President Joe Biden said in remarks Tuesday afternoon he intends for the federal government to pay for the entire cost of rebuilding the bridge and that he expects Congress to support his effort.

“I’ve directed my team to move heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge as soon as humanly possible,” Biden said.

More about Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse

Maersk confirms chartering vessel

The vessel that collided with the bridge was identified by the U.S. Coast Guard as a 948-ft Singapore-flagged container ship chartered by Maersk.

No Maersk crew or personnel were onboard the vessel, according to the company. Shipping data indicates that the vessel is under the management of Synergy Marine Group, which said in a statement that all 22 crew members on board, including two pilots, were accounted for.

The steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sit on top of a container ship after the bridge collapsed collapsed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. 

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

“Whilst the exact cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the [ship] has now mobilised its Qualified Individual Incident response service,” the group said. “The US Coast Guard and local officials have been notified, and the owners and managers are fully cooperating with Federal and State government agencies under an approved plan.”

Marine traffic data suggests the ship was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

State of emergency

Emergency personnel remained on the scene after the bridge’s collapse, according to the office of Maryland’s governor.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley, with Mayor Brandon Scott (R) and Fire Department Chief James Wallace (L), speaks at a press conference on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. 

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

“I have declared a State of Emergency here in Maryland and we are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration,” Moore said.

“We will remain in close contact with federal, state, and local entities that are carrying out rescue efforts as we continue to assess and respond to this tragedy.”

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the Francis Scott Key Bridge carries Interstate 695 and crosses the Patapsco River.

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