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Baltimore bridge collapse; caused by a cargo ship Enruote to Sri Lanka

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Baltimore bridge

Maryland Governor Wes Moore disclosed that the operators of the Dali cargo ship issued a mayday call, reporting a loss of power just moments before the collision. However, despite the distress call, the ship continued to approach the bridge at an alarming speed.

The 985-foot (300-meter) long vessel collided with one of the supports of the 1.6-mile (2.6-kilometer) bridge, resulting in the immediate collapse of a section of the bridge into the water. Following the impact, the ship erupted into flames, emitting thick, black smoke.

The management company of the ship, Synergy Marine Group, stated that the vessel was under the guidance of one or more pilots, specialized local navigators responsible for ensuring the safe passage of vessels into ports. At the time of the collision, the ship was reportedly traveling at a speed of 8 knots, equivalent to approximately 9 mph (15 kph).

While two individuals were successfully rescued, authorities reported that six individuals, believed to be members of a construction crew tasked with repairing potholes on the bridge, remained unaccounted for as of late morning. Sonar scans indicated the presence of submerged vehicles in the water, with depths reaching about 50 feet (15 meters). The water temperature was recorded at approximately 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) prior to dawn on Tuesday.

Kevin Cartwright, spokesperson for the Baltimore Fire Department, described the collapse as a “developing mass casualty event,” though the exact number of affected individuals remained unclear. The ship, owned by Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd., confirmed the safety of all crew members, including the pilots, with no reported injuries among those on board.

The timely warning from the ship allowed authorities to restrict vehicle traffic on the bridge, and the incident occurred at 1:30 a.m., mitigating the potential impact during the typically busy morning rush hour.

In response to the incident, all ship traffic to and from the Port of Baltimore has been suspended until further notice, though truck operations at the port remain unaffected. Last year, the port recorded significant activity, handling a record 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo valued at $80 billion, in addition to facilitating the embarkation of over 444,000 passengers.

Situated as a vital East Coast hub for maritime trade, the port serves as a gateway for massive cargo ships navigating the Patapsco River to access the Chesapeake Bay and beyond to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Dali, en route from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka, flying the flag of Singapore, was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk to transport cargo for its customers. Despite the absence of Maersk personnel on board, the incident prompted a 2% decline in Maersk shares at the Nasdaq Copenhagen in early Tuesday trading.

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