Coast Guard Boats, Aircraft Search for Victims of Massive Bridge Collapse in Baltimore

A helicopter flies over a container ship as it rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge
A helicopter flies over a container ship as it rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Pasadena, Md. The ship rammed into the major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, causing it to collapse in a matter of seconds and creating a terrifying scene as several vehicles plunged into the chilly river below. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Coast Guard units in Maryland and across the mid-Atlantic region have responded to the collapse of a major bridge in Baltimore after it was struck by a cargo ship early Tuesday morning.

Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region received a report at 1:27 a.m. that the fully loaded, 948-foot Singapore-flagged container ship Dali struck the 1.6-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge, which carries Interstate 695, also known as the Baltimore Beltway, over the Patapsco River.

Within seconds of the impact, the steel truss bridge collapsed, causing several people and automobiles to fall into the river.

At least eight people went into the water. Two were rescued but the other six, part of a construction crew that had been filling potholes on the bridge, were missing and presumed dead. A search for their bodies was underway Wednesday morning, according to Maryland State Police spokesperson Elena Russo.

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The Coast Guard is working with local, state and federal agencies in the search-and-rescue effort, as well as accident investigation and pollution response, according to the service.

Lt. Cmdr. Erin Palmer, acting chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, said the service has three small boats involved in operations, as well as the 87-foot patrol boat Mako and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City.


"USCG's primary mission is search and rescue, looking for any survivors in the water," Palmer said during a press conference Tuesday.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said there were at least seven construction workers on the bridge at the time of its collapse.

In a video captured by StreamTime Live of the Port of Baltimore, the Dali appeared to lose power at least twice before striking the bridge. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore confirmed during a press conference Tuesday that the ship had notified authorities that it lost power.

He added that the ship had issued a mayday that allowed authorities to stop the flow of traffic onto the bridge. In the video, several work trucks remained on the bridge deck before the collapse.

The ship would have been under the control of its captain and a pilot as it left the ninth-largest port in the U.S. for total cargo value.

According to the app MarineTraffic, the Dali was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

An urgent Marine Information Broadcast was issued over the incident, and a 2,000-yard safety zone was set in place. The Coast Guard is urging mariners to avoid the area.

According to the Coast Guard, accident investigators and pollution response coordinators were on their way to the scene as of early Tuesday. Shipping in and out of the Port of Baltimore has been suspended.

In 1980, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which crosses Tampa Bay in Florida, was struck by a bulk carrier during a storm, causing a 1,200-foot portion to fall into the water. Thirty-five people died, including drivers and passengers of a truck, seven cars and a Greyhound bus.

That accident happened just three months after the Coast Guard seagoing buoy tender Blackthorn struck a tanker in the same area near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, killing 23 crew members.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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