Bridge collapse in Baltimore | At least seven people missing

(Baltimore) A major highway bridge in Baltimore, on the east coast of the United States, collapsed early Tuesday morning after being hit by a container ship, dragging vehicles and people with it.

Rescuers are searching for at least seven people in the water and underwater around the huge twisted metal structure, in a spectacular deployment of resources including drones, helicopters and divers.

“Our sonar detected the presence of vehicles submerged in the water,” said James Wallace, the city’s fire chief. “I don’t have the number yet,” he added.

CCTV footage shows what appears to be a container ship hitting a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to fall into the river along with much of the structure’s metal structure.

Lights that appear to be those of vehicles are seen on the bridge, before it buckles and falls in pieces, around 1:30 a.m. local time (1:30 a.m. Eastern).

“We were woken up by a kind of earthquake and a long, resounding crash,” said a local resident, whose windows overlook the bridge, quoted by CNN.

Among the potential victims are workers who worked on the structure, which spans the mouth of the Patapsco River.

“There is absolutely no indication that this was an act of terrorism, that this was a deliberate act,” said Baltimore Police Chief Richard Worley.

Crucial road axis

The four-lane bridge is 2.6 km long, southwest of Baltimore, a large American industrial and port city, in the state of Maryland, about 60 kilometers northeast of Washington.

It is a crucial north-south axis for transportation and the economy of the eastern seaboard of the United States. It is named after a local son, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to the American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

All access to the bridge was blocked by a large deployment of police forces, noted an AFP journalist on site.

The governor of the US state of Maryland has declared a state of emergency. “We are working with a multi-agency team to quickly deploy the Biden administration’s federal resources,” Governor Wes Moore told the X Network.

Shipping traffic tracking site MarineTraffic showed a Singapore-flagged container ship named Dali stopped under the bridge early Tuesday.

Danish shipping giant Maersk confirmed it had chartered the vessel, operated by shipping company Synergy Group.

“We are horrified by what happened in Baltimore and send our thoughts to those affected,” Maersk wrote in a statement.

Managers of the Singapore-flagged ship said Tuesday that there were no injuries to crew members. “All members of the crew, including the two pilots, have been found and no injuries have been reported,” Synergy Marine Group wrote on its website.

The mayor of Baltimore spoke of “an inconceivable tragedy”. “We need to think about the families and the people affected, the people we need to look for, for now we are focusing on that,” added Brandon Scott in a press conference.


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