Monday, April 15, 2024

‘Mass casualties’ feared as Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses | transport News

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DEVELOPING STORY,

Authorities say emergency personnel were at the scene and rescue efforts were under way.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in the United States city of Baltimore has collapsed after a ship hit it.

Media reports said the vessel crashed into the bridge at about 1:30am Tuesday, catching fire before sinking and causing multiple vehicles to fall into the water below. Officials have called the incident a “developing mass casualty event”.

Up to 20 people are feared to be in the water, Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department told CNN.

“We understand up to 20 individuals may be in the Patapsco River right now as well as multiple vehicles,” Cartwright said, adding officials were dealing with a “mass casualty multi-agency incident”.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M Scott said on X emergency personnel were at the scene and rescue efforts were under way.

“All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured,” the Maryland Transportation Authority posted on X.

Cartwright told The Associated Press agencies received 911 calls at about 1:30am reporting a vessel travelling outbound from Baltimore had struck a column on the bridge, causing it to collapse.

It was unclear how many vehicles were on the four-lane motorway bridge at that time, but fire officials said “there was surely a large tractor-trailer” on it.

“Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,” Cartwright said.

He added that it’s too early to know how many people have been affected but called the incident a “developing mass casualty event”.

Emergency responders are having to operate cautiously as it appears that there are “some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,” creating unsafe and unstable conditions, he continued.

“This is a dire emergency,” he said.

A live video posted on YouTube showed a ship hitting the bridge, after which major portions of the spans collapsed into the Patapsco River. Unverified videos posted on social media X also showed the impact and collapse.

Ship tracking data from LSEG shows a Singapore-flagged container ship, the Dali, at the location along the Key Bridge where the accident occurred. The registered owner of the ship is Grace Ocean Pte Ltd and the manager is Synergy Marine Group, LSEG data show.

Synergy Marine Corp said that a Singapore-flagged container ship “Dali” collided with one of the pillars of the bridge and that all its crew members, including the two pilots have been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries.

Reuters could not immediately reach Grace Ocean for comment.

It was not immediately clear if the Baltimore port operations were impacted due to the bridge collapse.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge is a major link across the harbour of the metropolis in the northeast of the US. According to the Maryland
Department of Transportation, it is more than 2.5km (1.5 miles) long and has four lanes.

The port’s private and public terminals handled 847,158 autos and light trucks in 2023, the most of any US port. The port also handles farm and construction machinery, sugar, gypsum and coal, according to a Maryland government website.

More to follow.

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