Tragic bridge collapse in Baltimore: Six presumed dead

| Updated: 28 March, 2024 1:54 pm IST
Baltimore bridge collapse: Cargo ship collides with bridge in Baltimore, 6 presumed dead

NEW DELHI : Tragedy struck Baltimore, Maryland, early Tuesday morning as the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed following a collision with a Singapore-flagged container ship, the Dali.

The catastrophic event unfolded when the vessel, carrying 4,679 TEU, collided with a support column of the 47-year-old bridge, causing it to crumble into the water below.

The crew of 22, all reported to be of Indian nationality, had issued a distress call moments before the collision, citing a “power issue” aboard the ship. Their timely Mayday call alerted authorities, allowing them to take immediate action to prevent additional vehicles from accessing the bridge. Maryland Governor Wes Moore acknowledged that the crew’s quick response “undoubtedly” saved lives.

Despite the severity of the incident, all crew members, including two pilots, were safely accounted for. However, six individuals working on the bridge are missing and presumed deceased, while two others were rescued from the water, one in critical condition.

As night fell and conditions deteriorated, search-and-rescue efforts were halted approximately 18 hours after the incident. Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath of the US Coast Guard cited the frigid water and the time elapsed since the accident as factors contributing to the decision.

Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace highlighted the challenges posed by the freezing temperatures and tidal conditions, complicating rescue operations. Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott described the event as an “unthinkable tragedy,” emphasizing the urgency of rescuing those still trapped.

The focus now shifts to the investigation into the cause of the collapse. Transportation safety experts aim to board the stricken ship to retrieve its data recorder while shipping giant Maersk, which chartered the vessel, pledges full cooperation with federal agencies.

US President Joe Biden has pledged federal support for Baltimore and announced plans to visit the city soon. He assured that the government would cover the entire cost of replacing the bridge, pending approval from Congress.

While the exact cause of the incident remains unknown, authorities have ruled out terrorism as a motive. As investigations continue, the community mourns the loss of life and braces for the arduous task of rebuilding.

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