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Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses in Baltimore after being hit by container ship

David Johns
The Nightly
2 Min Read
The bridge, part of the interstate highway in Baltimore, collapsed once a cargo ship registered from Singapore crashed into it. More details to come.

A major commuter bridge in Baltimore collapsed after being rammed by a container ship, causing vehicles to plunge into the water and threatening chaos at one of the most important ports on the US East Coast.

The Maryland Transportation Authority issued an alert on X telling drivers not to use Interstate 695. Kevin Cartwright of the Baltimore City Fire Department described it as “a mass casualty, multi-agency incident” in an audio interview with CNN, adding as many as 20 people could be in the water.

The disaster at the Francis Scott Key Bridge happened early Tuesday. Now that a key link has been severed on the major highway encircling Baltimore, it’s likely to cause huge disruption — both for shipping at one of the busiest ports on the US East Coast and on the roads.

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The vessel is the Dali, which sails under the flag of Singapore. The 32,000-ton ship was built in 2015. A London-based spokesman for Synergy Marine, its manager, said the Dali had around 4,900 containers on board at the time. Company executives were travelling to the site to assess the situation.

The bridge allows commercial ships to enter the Port of Baltimore, one of the top ports in the US in terms of volume and value of cargo. It is the largest US port for handling cars and light trucks.

At least 21 ships are in waters to the west of the collapsed bridge. About half of them are tugs. There are also at least three bulk carriers, one vehicle carrier, and a small tanker.

An extended shutdown is going to bring chaos for travellers just ahead of the Easter holiday weekend on the already clogged corridor between New York and Washington, DC.

The Baltimore port handled 847,158 autos and light trucks in 2023, the most of any US port for the thirteenth straight year, according to a State of Maryland website. The port also handled large volumes of imported sugar, gypsum and coffee, as well as exported coal.

The Dali was carrying containers from East Asia to the US East Coast via the Panama Canal. It can haul the equivalent of about 9,700 steel boxes, about half the size of the industry’s largest ships.

It arrived at the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore on March 24 after delivering to the Port of New York /New Jersey and had offloaded a small number of containers before attempting its return journey to Asia early Tuesday morning.

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