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Baltimore Bridge Collapses After Being Struck by Ship

Baltimore bridge
A vessel crashed into the bridge. Credit: @sentdefender/X

A bridge in Baltimore, Maryland has partially collapsed after being struck by a container ship early on Tuesday morning.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge crumbled after a vessel crashed into it, prompting the structure to fall apart into the Patapsco River shortly before 1:30 AM.

Multiple vehicles fell into the water. Authorities were trying to rescue at least seven people. “All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured,” the Maryland Transportation Authority wrote on X.

Emergency responders were searching for at least seven people believed to be in the water, Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department, told The Associated Press.

He said agencies received 911 calls around 1:30 AM, reporting a vessel traveling outbound from Baltimore that had struck a column on the bridge, causing it to collapse. Multiple vehicles were on the bridge at the time, including one the size of a tractor-trailer.

“Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,” Cartwright said. He said it’s too early to know how many people were affected but called the collapse a “developing mass casualty event.”

Cartwright said it appears there are “some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,” creating unsafe and unstable conditions and that emergency responders are operating cautiously as a result.

The bridge was the longest bridge in the Baltimore metropolitan area

Baltimore bridge
The bridge was 8,636 feet (2,632 m) long and carried an estimated 11.5 million vehicles annually. Credit: Patorjk , CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, also known originally as the Outer Harbor Crossing (until it was renamed in 1977) or simply as the Key Bridge or Beltway Bridge, was a steel arch-shaped continuous through truss bridge spanning the lower Patapsco River and outer Baltimore Harbor / Port carrying Maryland Route 695 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The main span of 1,200 feet (366 m) was the third longest span of any continuous truss in the world. It was also the longest bridge in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

The bridge was opened in March 1977 and is named for the author of the American national anthem, the poem originally called “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” written in September 1814 and later set to music. It was entitled the “Star Spangled Banner” by Frederick and Georgetown lawyer /amateur poet Francis Scott Key (1779–1843).

The bridge was the outermost of three toll crossings of Baltimore’s Harbor (two tunnels and one bridge). Upon completion, the bridge structure and its approaches became the final links in Interstate 695 (the “Baltimore Beltway”), completing a two decades long project.

The bridge is 8,636 feet (2,632 m) long and carries an estimated 11.5 million vehicles annually. It is a designated hazardous materials truck route, as HAZMATs are prohibited in the Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels.

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