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Baltimore Key Bridge collapse live updates: ‘Dozens’ of deaths may have been avoided

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(BALTIMORE) — A cargo ship crashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning, causing a near-total collapse of the span and halting vessel traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore.

Six construction workers believed to have fallen from the collapsing bridge into the frigid waters of the Patapsco River below are presumed dead, officials said. A search-and-rescue effort has been suspended and will shift to a recovery mission, officials said.

Here’s how the news is developing:

Mar 27, 4:22 PM
Timeline shows moments before cargo ship collision

At 1 a.m., the 984-foot-long, Singapore-flagged cargo ship pulled out of its berth at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, southeast of downtown Baltimore, and started to head up the Patapsco River toward the Francis Scott Key Bridge, according to the vessel’s tracking data.

At 1:23 a.m., a livestream camera captured the massive ship coming into view as it approached the Key Bridge, apparently on course to pass under the 1.6-mile-long span near the middle of the bridge’s cantilevered section. The footage showed light traffic on the bridge, including a tractor-trailer rig.

Mar 27, 2:27 PM
Ship’s crew on board and cooperating with officials: Coast Guard

The ship’s crew is still on board and is cooperating with officials, Vice Adm. Peter Gautier, deputy commandant for operations for the Coast Guard, said at Wednesday’s White House press briefing.

The ship “had a fairly good safety record,” he noted.

Gautier also stressed that “there is no threat to the public from the hazardous materials on board.”

“The real critical thing here is that, as you know, a portion of the bridge remains on the bow of that ship. And we will be coordinating very closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and their contractors to, first, affect the removal of that debris before the vessel can then be removed,” Gautier said. “The vessel bow is sitting on the bottom because of the weight of that bridge debris on there, and there are underwater surveys happening by a remotely operated vehicle. Divers will be in the water today to complete that underwater survey.”

The investigation into what caused the collision is ongoing.

“Anybody who is responsible will need to be accountable,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said.

Mar 27, 1:49 PM
‘If not for several factors … loss of life might have been in the dozens’: Buttigieg

“If not for several factors,” including the mayday call, the first responders’ quick action and the time of the day of the collision, the “loss of life might have been in the dozens,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said at Wednesday’s White House press briefing.

Six construction workers were killed and one was hurt when a cargo ship struck Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“Work is undergoing to recover their remains and our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg said he’s concerned about the local economic impact of the Port of Baltimore’s closure.

“No matter how quickly the channel can be reopened, we know that it can’t happen overnight, and so we’re going to have to manage the impacts in the meantime,” he said. “We’re working to mitigate some of those impacts, including using tools that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Following the disruptions to supply chains from the COVID pandemic, President Biden’s infrastructure package included the establishment of a new freight office within our department to help coordinate goods movement in ways that were not possible before.”

“We are using it now to help the hundreds of different private supply chain actors get better coordinated to keep goods moving,” Buttigieg said.

He said he’ll be meeting Thursday with shippers and other supply chain partners to “understand their needs” during this disruption.

“That said, the port of Baltimore is an important port, so for our supply chains and for all the workers who depend on it for their income, we’re going to help to get it open as soon as safely possible,” he added.

Mar 27, 1:05 PM
10 other ships stuck in Port of Baltimore

Ten ships — not including the Dali — are stuck inside the Port of Baltimore, according to a new update by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

They are comprised of: three bulk carriers, one vehicle carrier, three logistics naval vessels, two general cargo ships and one oil chemical tanker.

An additional vehicle carrier is in the port but outside the site of the bridge collapse.

This list does not include additional tugboats, sailboats and private yachts that are also in a holding pattern as the Port of Baltimore remains closed.

The port said Tuesday vessel traffic in and out is “suspended until further notice.”

-Noah Minnie and Elizabeth Schulze

Mar 27, 12:02 PM
Ship ‘experienced momentary loss of propulsion’: Singapore’s port authority

Dali, the container ship that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, “experienced momentary loss of propulsion” just before the collision, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore confirmed.

The Singaporean-flagged ship underwent and passed two separate inspections in June and September 2023, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said in a statement.

“Based on records, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore confirms that the vessel’s required classification society and statutory certificates covering the structural integrity of the vessel and functionality of the vessel’s equipment, were valid at the time of the incident,” Singapore’s port authority said.

“In the June 2023 inspection, a faulty monitor gauge for fuel pressure was rectified before the vessel departed the port,” MPA added.

-ABC News’ Laura Romero

Mar 27, 10:30 AM
By the numbers: Vessels impacted

The closure of the waterway will immediately impact the arrival or departure of eight foreign cargo vessels and four U.S. cargo vessels, according to an updated assessment obtained by ABC News.

From March 26 to April 9, arrivals into the Port of Baltimore of an estimated two chemical tank ships, five container ships, 15 vehicle carriers and 13 bulk carriers may be impacted.

One cruise vessel is anticipated to arrive on April 4, which may also be impacted.

-ABC News’ Josh Margolin and Aaron Katersky

Mar 27, 8:36 AM
Water unsafe for divers: DHS memo

Imagery from underwater drones show “an abundance of twisted metal and debris” from the collapsed bridge, making it unsafe for divers to enter the frigid water to search for the six missing construction workers, according to a new assessment of the situation from the Department of Homeland Security obtained by ABC News.

One truck and trailer have been recovered, and one vehicle remains hanging from the metal structure, according to DHS.

The 23 ship crew members are all accounted for, and one was transported to a local hospital with a minor injury, the document said.

With the Port of Baltimore closed to maritime traffic, transportation officials expect backups to rail and truck freight shipments as cargo shifts along the eastern seaboard, the document said.

Investigators have determined there are 13 damaged containers aboard the ship and they are being inspected for any potentially hazardous materials, DHS said.

“There is minor sheening on-scene. Booming has been ordered and is staged but will not be placed until search and rescue and dive operations are complete,” the document said. “The amount of potential oil spill is 1.8M gallons of marine grade diesel.”

-ABC News’ Josh Margolin and Aaron Katersky

Mar 27, 8:09 AM
Crash timeline expected today, NTSB chairwoman says

National Transportation Safety Board investigators are combing on Wednesday through a voyage-data recorder in an attempt to recreate a timeline of Tuesday’s cargo-ship crash, Jennifer Homendy, NTSB chairwoman, said Wednesday.

“We do have a download from the voyage data recorder that we’ve sent back to our lab to evaluate the data and begin to construct a timeline of events, which we hope to have later today,” Homendy said on “Good Morning America.”

NTSB investigators, who are leading the investigation, arrived at the bridge scene at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. Twenty-four NTSB staffers were on site, including several specialising in nautical operations, human performance and engineering, Homendy said Tuesday.

She said on Wednesday that those investigators were expected later in the day to board Dali, the vessel that crashed into the bridge.

“We aren’t looking at the structure today,” she said, meaning the fallen bridge. “We will be boarding the vessel at some point today to begin to look at the devastation really, and then look through the vessel itself. “

Mar 27, 7:39 AM
Investigation is urgent, but will ‘take time,’ Gov. Moore says

Investigators were busy working on Wednesday to discover what caused the power loss prior to the crash, but the full investigation and repair efforts will take “not days, weeks nor even months,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said on Wednesday.

“This is complicated. It is difficult. But we still have to be able to move with a sense of urgency and we are going to get it done. But this is going to take time,” Moore said in an interview on “Good Morning America.” “This is not days, weeks nor even months.”

“We still have information that we have to uncover,” he said, “The thing that we do know though is that with a ship of that size, moving at that kind of clip, it was going to be difficult for that type of bridge to be able to sustain.”

Moore and other government officials had met on Tuesday with the families of the missing, as the search continued.

“Had the opportunity to pray with them and pray for them,” he said Tuesday. “And the strength of these families is absolutely remarkable, and we want to let them know that we are here with you every single step.”

He said investigators would do everything they could to give those families peace as the search turns to a recovery mission.

“We want to let them know we will use all resources to bring them a sense of closure and peace,” he said on “GMA.”

Mar 27, 7:19 AM
Ship’s force ‘almost unimaginable,’ Secretary Buttigieg says

The force with which a cargo ship hit Baltimore’s Key Bridge on Tuesday was “just unimaginable,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday.

“What I do know is that the force of this ship is almost unimaginable,” Buttigieg said on “Good Morning America.” “This is a vessel that was about 100,000 tons carrying its load. So 200 million lbs. went into this bridge all at once, which is why you had that almost-instant catastrophic result.”

As the U.S. works to update bridges around the country, each new generation of bridges is “more resilient than the last,” Buttigieg said.

“We are at work to make sure our infrastructure for the future is better prepared for any kind of threat,” he said. “Really what we saw yesterday was just unimaginable in terms of the proportion of that ship.”

Buttigieg had arrived at the scene in Baltimore on Tuesday, saying at the time that the DOT’s Maritime Administration would assist with disrupted port, harbor and supply chain operations.

The DOT’s Federal Highway Administration will assist with the bridge, he said Tuesday.

He said his “first thoughts” were with the missing construction workers and their families.

“Now they are dealing with news that’s just unthinkable,” he said on “GMA.”

Mar 27, 5:46 AM
Workers from Guatemala, El Salvador among missing

Construction workers originally from Guatemala and El Salvador are among the six missing after the Key Bridge collapsed in Baltimore, foreign officials and local aid group said.

The two from Guatemala who are missing are a 26-year-old from San Luis, Petén, and a 35-year-old from Camotán, Chiquimula, the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement. Their names were not released.

Another missing worker was identified as Miguel Luna, who is originally from El Salvador, according to Court Appointed Special Advocates, a group that works with immigrants.

“Miguel Luna, from El Salvador, left at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening for work and since, has not come home,” the organization said in a press release. “He is a husband, a father of three, and has called Maryland his home for over 19 years.”

-ABC News’ Victoria Arancio and Kevin Shalvey

Mar 26, 7:52 PM
Search and rescue efforts to be suspended, move to recovery operation: USCG

The Coast Guard said it is suspending the search and rescue efforts as of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for the six missing individuals after the bridge collapse.

“Based on the length of time that we’ve gone in the search, the extensive search efforts that we put into it, the water temperature — at this point, we do not believe that we’re going to find any of these individuals still alive,” Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath told reporters.

The conditions in the water, including low water temperatures and unpredictable currents, have made it dangerous for first responders, authorities said.

Authorities said they plan to conduct recovery efforts starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

“We’re hoping to put divers in the water and begin a more detailed search to do our very best to recover those six missing people,” Col. Roland Butler with the Maryland State Police said.

Mar 26, 7:08 PM
Carnival temporarily moving Baltimore operations to Norfolk

Carnival is temporarily moving its Baltimore operations to Norfolk, Virginia, amid the rescue and remediation efforts following the bridge collapse, the cruise line said Tuesday.

“Our thoughts remain with the impacted families and first responders in Baltimore,” Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said in a statement. “We appreciate the pledge made by President Biden today to dedicate all available resources to reopen Baltimore Harbor to marine traffic as soon as possible. As those plans are finalized, we will update our future cruise guests on when we will return home to Baltimore, but in the meantime, we appreciate the quick response and support from officials in Norfolk.”

The move impacts the Carnival Legend ship, which is scheduled to return from its current voyage on Sunday, the company said. The cruise will return to Norfolk with free bus service back to Baltimore, Carnival said.

Mar 26, 5:25 PM
EPA on standby, not aware of any concerns

The regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency is on standby to respond to the aftermath of the bridge collapse if needed but is not aware of any environmental concerns at this time, according to EPA Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs spokesman Shaun Egan.

Synergy Marine Group said Tuesday morning that there was no pollution from the ship.

The Coast Guard is the primary federal agency responding and they have not asked for EPA assistance. Coast Guard pollution responders were sent to the scene, and if any releases of fuel or other pollutants are detected, the EPA official said the agency is ready to support that response.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said it is “conducting water sampling upriver and downriver of the site.”

-ABC News’ Stephanie Ebbs and Beatrice Peterson

Mar 26, 4:09 PM
Harris: ‘We are all praying’

Vice President Kamala Harris said she is “praying for the families of those who are missing and all those who have been touched by this tragedy.”

“I spoke with the governor of Maryland this morning, and we have directed the federal government to use all the resources that are available to assist with the search and rescue, to reopen the port and to rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible,” Harris said while making a joint appearance with President Joe Biden at an event in North Carolina.

-ABC News’ Libby Cathey and Justin Ryan Gomez

Mar 26, 4:00 PM
‘Very much still a search and rescue mission,’ governor says

Fourteen hours after the bridge collapse, crews are still desperately looking for the six people who remain unaccounted for, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“This is very much still a search and rescue mission,” Moore said.

“We had the opportunity to spend time with the families. Had the opportunity to pray with them and pray for them,” Moore said. “And the strength of these families is absolutely remarkable.”

“We are hopeful and we are with the families,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said.

“This is no ordinary bridge — this is one of the cathedrals of American infrastructure. It has been part of the skyline of this region for longer than many of us have been alive,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “So the path to normalcy will not be easy, will not be quick, will not be inexpensive. But we will rebuild together.”

Buttigieg did not give an estimate of how long it may take to resume vessel traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore.

Mar 26, 3:00 PM
What to know about the collapse

The container ship Dali struck Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, partially collapsing the bridge, officials in Maryland said.

A local pilot was at the helm of the ship at the time, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said.

The crash appeared to be accidental, not intentional, officials said.

Two people were rescued from the Patapsco River and at least six people remain missing, officials said.

Mar 26, 2:28 PM
Buttigieg meets with responders

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to the scene of the Baltimore bridge collapse, at the invitation of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, according to the Department of Transportation.

Buttigieg posted a photo of him meeting with responders.

An estimated 30,000 vehicles crossed the bridge per day, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Mar 26, 1:38 PM
Personnel on ship alerted officials before collision ‘which undoubtedly saved lives’: Biden

Personnel on the ship alerted the Maryland Department of Transportation that they lost control of the vessel, and officials were able to close the bridge before it was struck, “which undoubtedly saved lives,” President Joe Biden told reporters.

It appears the crash was a “terrible accident,” Biden said.

He said the search and rescue operation is the top priority.

“Ship traffic and the Port of Baltimore has been suspended until further notice. And we’ll need to clear that channel before the ship traffic can resume,” he said.

“It’s my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstruction. … I expect the Congress to support my effort,” Biden said.

“This is going to take some time,” the president said, adding, “We’re not leaving until this job gets done.”

Biden, who noted he’s been over the bridge many times, said he plans to visit Baltimore as soon as possible.

“Our prayers are with everyone involved in this terrible accident and all the families, especially those waiting for news of their loved one right now,” the president said. “To the people of Baltimore, I want to say: We’re with you. We’re going to stay with you, as long as it takes.”

Mar 26, 12:34 PM
No cars transiting bridge at time of collapse: Internal DHS briefing

Maryland transportation officials reviewed traffic cameras and confirmed there were “no vehicles transiting the bridge at the time of the incident,” according to the latest internal Department of Homeland Security briefing obtained by ABC News.

The local pilot who was at the controls is “undergoing post-accident Drug and Alcohol Testing,” the briefing said.

The cargo ship “remains impaled in the bridge,” the document said. “Several shipping containers with unknown cargo fell into water. There is hull damage above the water line to the vessel and the ship is maintaining watertight integrity.”

A slight sheen of pollution was observed in the water, suggesting there could be some oil or other pollutant “in the vicinity of the ship and pollution booms have been requested,” the memo said.

-ABC News’ Josh Margolin and Aaron Katersky

Mar 26, 11:00 AM
6 unaccounted for

Six people remain unaccounted for as the desperate search continues at the site of the bridge collapse, Coast Guard officials said at a Tuesday morning news conference.

Two were rescued, including one who was hospitalized and later discharged, officials said. Construction workers were on the bridge working on potholes at the time of the collapse, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“To hear the words that the Key Bridge has collapsed, it’s shocking and heartbreaking,” Moore said. “It’s not just unprecedented, what we’re seeing today — it’s heartbreaking.”

The collapse appears to be an accident, Moore said.

There’s nothing to suggest ties to terrorism, the FBI added.

The container ship was moving at 8 knots, which is considered fast, officials noted.

A local pilot was at the helm of the ship at the time, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said.

A harbor pilot and assistant onboard the cargo ship reported power issues, multiple alarms on the bridge and loss of propulsion prior to the incident, according to a Coast Guard memo obtained by ABC News. All personnel on the tanker are accounted for with no reported injuries, the memo said.

The Patapsco River channel is fully blocked, with approximately five inbound and seven outbound vessels in the queue for the next 24 hours, according to the memo.

The bridge was up to code, officials said.

Mar 26, 10:46 AM
What to know about the cargo ship

The Singapore-flagged cargo ship, Dali, spans a length of 984 feet and a width of 157 feet, a listing showed. It holds 22 crew members, all of whom are based in India.

The ship departed from the Port of Baltimore at 1 a.m. on Tuesday, embarking on a 27-day journey to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The ship “lost propulsion” as it was leaving the port and warned Maryland officials of a possible collision, according to officials.

The waterway into and out of the port is closed and there is no other route into the port, which is the second busiest port in the Mid-Atlantic.

Mar 26, 9:47 AM
Governor declares state of emergency

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

“We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration,” Moore said in a statement.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott also declared a local state of emergency.

Mar 26, 9:28 AM
The history of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge

The 1.6-mile bridge on the I-695 beltway crosses the Patapsco River, where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words of the U.S. national anthem in 1814, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Key, after whom the bridge was named, was also an advisor to Andrew Jackson, served as the District Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1833 to 1841, and was a slave owner, according to the National Park Service.

Construction on the bridge, which was intended to ease traffic and maintenance concerns regarding the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel that serviced the waterway, began in 1972 and finished in March 1977, according to the MDTA.

Mar 26, 8:36 AM
1 person hospitalized in very serious condition

Two people have been rescued from the water and crews are still searching for others, fire officials said.

One person rescued has been taken to a hospital in very serious condition, Baltimore Fire Department Chief James Wallace said.

The second rescued person denied medical treatment.

Mar 26, 8:30 AM
‘No indications this was an intentional act,’ Mayorkas says

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said “there are no indications this was an intentional act,” adding, “we are assessing the impacts to the Port of Baltimore.”

“Our thoughts are with the families of the missing and injured,” he said.

The Coast Guard is “actively involved in search and rescue operations,” he said.

Mar 26, 8:09 AM
Biden briefed on collapse

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the ongoing search and rescue efforts, according to a White House official. He will continue to receive updates from his team throughout the day, the official said.

Senior White House officials have been in touch with the Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor to offer any federal assistance they need, the administration said.

-ABC News’ Selina Wang and Molly Nagle

Mar 26, 7:32 AM
Ship lost propulsion, warned of collision, CISA report says

An unclassified Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report said the container ship Dali “lost propulsion” as it was leaving port and warned Maryland officials of a possible collision.

The crew notified officials that they had lost control, the report said.

“The vessel notified MD Department of Transportation (MDOT) that they had lost control of the vessel and an allision with the bridge was possible,” the report said. “The vessel struck the bridge causing a complete collapse.”

The waterway into and out of the port has been closed and there is no other route into the port, which is the second busiest port in the mid-Atlantic.

-ABC News’ Sam Sweeney, Aaron Katersky and Kevin Shalvey

Mar 26, 7:15 AM
Cargo ship company says all crew members safe

The owners and managers of the cargo ship Dali, a Singapore-flagged vessel, said all crew members had been accounted for following the crash.

“All crew members, including the two pilots have been accounted for and there are no reports of any injuries,” Synergy Marine Group said in a statement.

The company said the 22 crew members, including the pilots, were based in India.

The 984-foot ship is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd, the statement said.

The cause of the crash is “yet to be determined,” the statement said.

-ABC News’ Jenny Wagnon Courts, Laura Romero and Kevin Shalvey

Mar 26, 6:05 AM
Secretary Buttigieg offers DOT support

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement that he’s spoken with local officials to offer support.

“I’ve spoken with Gov. Moore and Mayor Scott to offer USDOT’s support following the vessel strike and collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge,” he said. “Rescue efforts remain underway and drivers in the Baltimore area should follow local responder guidance on detours and response.”

-ABC News Molly Nagle

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