Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse: Patapsco River incident prompts large-scale rescue operation

March 26, 2024

Incident overview: Bridge collapse in Baltimore

In a significant incident early Tuesday, the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, United States, collapsed into the Patapsco River after being struck by a container ship named ‘Dali’.

The Baltimore City Fire Department, currently at the scene, reported up to 20 individuals and several vehicles have plummeted into the river following the collapse, which occurred around 01:30 ET.

Videos circulating on social media depict the bridge fully submerged in the water, triggering a vast multi-agency rescue and recovery initiative.

The incident has led to numerous casualties, although specific numbers are still pending confirmation.

Emergency response and impact

Kevin Cartwright, the Baltimore Fire Department’s Director of Communications, described the situation as a “dire emergency,” emphasizing the immediate focus on rescue and recovery efforts.

The collapse, deemed a “developing mass casualty event,” has prompted a significant emergency response, with agencies mobilizing to assist those affected.

The bridge, a critical transport artery since its opening in 1977 and named after the national anthem’s author, now sees part of its structure and cargo perilously hanging above the river.

The incident occurred as the ship exited Baltimore, impacting the bridge’s structural integrity and causing extensive damage.

Statements and safety measures

Maryland Governor Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency in response to the collapse, ensuring federal resources’ swift deployment and expressing gratitude towards the rescue teams.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confirmed communication with Maryland and Baltimore officials, advising local drivers to heed guidance on detours and responses.

The Maryland Transportation Authority has also implemented traffic detours, highlighting the broader implications on regional transportation.

Notably, the Synergy Marine Group reported no injuries among the ‘Dali’s crew, emphasizing the ongoing investigation to ascertain the collision’s cause.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, an iconic structure spanning the Patapsco River, serves as a vital link for vehicular traffic in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.

Named after the writer of the United States national anthem, the bridge has facilitated commerce and travel since its inception in 1977.

FSJA Comment

The collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal agencies illustrate the importance of coordinated disaster response strategies.

As the community awaits further details on the casualties and structural assessments, the focus remains on the well-being of those directly impacted and the safety of the emergency personnel involved in the rescue operations.

The incident also highlights the critical need for ongoing infrastructure maintenance and safety evaluations to prevent similar events in the future.

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