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Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Casualties expected as ship strike brings down Baltimore bridge

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Casualties are feared after container vessel Dali struck a support column on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the US city of Baltimore leading to the bridge's complete collapse.

Container ship Dali is stuck under the collapsed bridge structure. Operator Synergy Marine Group has reported no injuries to the crew or the two pilots onboard. The 2015-built ship is 299 meters long with a 9,960 teu capacity and is under charter by Maersk.

US agencies have reported that workers and vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse and search and rescue efforts are underway; a spokesperson from the Baltimore City Fire Department referred to the collapse as a mass casualty event. Authorities said they were looking for upwards of seven individuals, with one spokesperson claiming up to 20 people may be in the cold water.

There have been reports of a diesel spill in the water, though its source is unclear at this time.

The bridge strike happened around 0130 hrs local time and caused an immediate collapse of the bridge. Videos of the incident show the lights on the ship going out for a one minute period close to the time of the impact with the bridge before illimunating again. As the ship's lights come back on, its funnel begins emitting heavy smoke, suggesting some attempt to manuevre.

Dali had departed Baltimore and its destination at the time of the incident was Sri Lanka. 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge formed part of the I-695 toll road and carried around 30,000 vehicles per day. It was a significant piece of infrastructure for the various terminals of the Port of Baltimore. The collapse will cause an immediate obstruction to traffic entering and leaving the Port of Baltimore, including a number of vessels which are currently trapped in Baltimore Harbour, upriver from the bridge.