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Construction Crew Unaccounted for in Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Roberto Schmidt AFP

On Tuesday, an extensive search operation was launched for six construction workers who were working on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore during a collision with a large cargo vessel, causing it to collapse into the Patapsco River. According to authorities, this incident has disrupted a vital route for East Coast shipping.

At approximately 1:30 a.m., a vessel departing from the Port of Baltimore collided with the Key Bridge, resulting in its immediate collapse. Prior to the collision, the crew of the ship had issued a distress signal after suffering a power failure. Video footage captured the cargo ship striking one of the bridge's columns, causing it to give way and plummet into the water, partially resting on the ship. Subsequently, flames and smoke erupted into the night sky.

Several vehicles were on the bridge at the time of impact, plunging into the cold waters of the Patapsco River. Additionally, numerous contractors were on the bridge engaged in repair work, according to Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld. Presently, two individuals have been rescued, with one uninjured and the other in critical condition.

The crew aboard the ship involved in the collision remained onboard, awaiting assessment of the vessel's condition before rescue operations could commence, stated James Wallace, chief of the Baltimore City Fire Department. The vessel, loaded with cargo for the major shipping firm Maersk, was en route to Sri Lanka.

A senior U.S. official informed USA TODAY that the vessel experienced a power failure minutes before colliding with the bridge. While an official cause has not been determined, Maryland Governor Wes Moore indicated during a news briefing that the crew had notified authorities of a power issue while traveling at approximately 9 miles per hour. He characterized the incident as an "accident" and affirmed that the bridge was compliant with regulations.

Moore lauded the prompt response of officials. Moore said once the mayday was issued, officials on site stopped cars from coming over the Francis Scott Key Bridge. "These people are heroes," he said, "they saved lives last night."

Several local, state, and federal organizations are collaborating on the extensive search, covering a wide stretch of the river—both its surface and depths—as well as the vessel, according to Wallace. Utilizing divers, helicopters, and sonar technology, they have identified multiple submerged vehicles in the approximately 50-foot-deep river where the bridge collapsed.

Read full story on USA Today

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