March 26, 2024 - Baltimore Key Bridge collapses after ship collision

By Helen Regan, Kathleen Magramo, Antoinette Radford, Alisha Ebrahimji, Maureen Chowdhury, Rachel Ramirez, Elise Hammond, Aditi Sangal, Tori B. Powell, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn and Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Updated 2:04 a.m. ET, March 27, 2024
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5:48 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Reports of vehicles in the water after Baltimore bridge collapse, US Coast Guard confirms

From CNN's Melissa Alonso

The US Coast Guard (USCG) is responding to the Francis Scott Key Bridge emergency after receiving a report that a container ship hit it at 1:27 a.m. ET "and it subsequently collapsed," according to a public affairs officer Kimberly Reaves of the Coast Guard's 5th District.

There are reports of vehicles in the water, according to Reaves, who says the Coast Guard has deployed "multiple" response units for a search and rescue mission.

"Coast Guard units on scene include small boats from Station Annapolis and Station Curtis Bay and a helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City," the statement read.

Reaves said that multiple state and local agencies are assisting, and it is unclear if there are any casualties.

5:31 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

US Secretary of Transportation spoke to Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor after bridge collapse

From CNN's Colin McCullough 

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke to Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, according to a post from the secretary on X

Buttigieg said that “rescue efforts remain underway and drivers in the Baltimore area should follow local responder guidance on detours and response.”

10:50 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

US Coast Guard says container ship, the DALI, hit Baltimore bridge

From CNN's Gianluca Mezzofiore and Alex Stambaugh 

A view of the Singapore-flagged container ship DALI after it collided with a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in this picture released on March 26.
A view of the Singapore-flagged container ship DALI after it collided with a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in this picture released on March 26. Harford County MD Fire & EMS/Reuters

The vessel that hit Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge was a container ship, the DALI, according to public affairs officer Kimberly Reaves of the US Coast Guard's 5th District.

A container ship named DALI "hit the Francis Scott Key bridge" at 1:27 a.m. ET "and it subsequently collapsed," Reaves said in a statement.

Maritime tracking website MarineTraffic showed that the Singapore-flagged ship stopped in Baltimore, where it was departing with a destination of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The website showed the ship stopped around 1:30 a.m. ET and was surrounded by first response boats.

At about 1:30 a.m., local agencies reported receiving 911 calls that a large ship traveling outbound from Baltimore had struck a column on the bridge, Kevin Cartwright, spokesperson for the Baltimore Fire Department told AP. 

The ship is around 300 meters (984 feet) long with a width of around 48 meters (157 feet), according to MarineTraffic data.

CNN is attempting to contact the owner and managers of the ship.

This post has been updated to add comments from the Coast Guard.

5:01 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Condition of collapsed bridge to be investigated, Baltimore Fire Department says

Officials will begin assessing the condition of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after it collapsed early Tuesday, Kevin Cartwright, director of communications of the Baltimore City Fire Department told CNN.

"This bridge has been in place for quite some time and has served many, many commuters in the Baltimore metropolitan area. So as the investigation ensues, there will be structural engineers involved to try and assess what the condition of the bridge is," Cartwright said.

Currently, conditions are "unsafe" but investigators will also assess the condition of the bridge before its collapse, according to Cartwright.

"This is a very devastating incident in which these individuals have encountered so our hearts go out to each and every one of them, and we will be working valiantly throughout the early morning to address this," he said.
4:57 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Freezing temperatures "pose concern" as search efforts expand after Baltimore bridge collapse

Freezing conditions and limited visibility at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore could "pose a concern" as rescue crews search for at least 20 people believed to have fallen into the water.

Kevin Cartwright, director of communications of the Baltimore City Fire Department, told CNN they are working with the US Coast Guard and a team of divers are in the river for search and rescue operations, with temperatures around the port at around 30 °F (-1°C).

"This happened at 01:30 a.m. with limited visibility so we are working aggressively, considering the environmental temperatures as well as the water temperatures to try and rescue and perhaps recover individuals," Cartwright said.
"It feels like at least about 30 degrees (-1°C) where I am. It could be slightly lower than that. And I'm sure that the water temperature is even colder... And that can pose a concern and risk for our divers."

Cartwright said the teams were working "methodically and safely" to ensure "everyone operating here on the scene is safe and that we're able to make progress without causing adverse harm to anyone else."

4:52 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Rescuers searching for up to 20 people in the river, Baltimore City Fire Department tells CNN

Emergency personnel operate at the scene of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in this picture released on March 26.
Emergency personnel operate at the scene of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in this picture released on March 26. Harford County MD Fire & EMS/Reuters

Baltimore is facing a "mass casualty multi agency incident," with response teams working to rescue around 20 people who may have fallen into the river when the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed.

"We are in the midst of managing a mass casualty multi agency incident here," said Kevin Cartwright, director of communications of the Baltimore City Fire Department.
"Unfortunately, we understand that there are up to 20 individuals who may be in the Patapsco river as well as multiple vehicles," he told CNN.

Cartwright said they are working with the US Coast Guard and a team of divers are in the river for search and rescue operations, with temperatures around the port at around 30 °F (-1°C).

There could have been a vehicle "as large as a tractor trailer" on the bridge at the time of collapse, Cartwright said.

5:33 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

"Very significant crash" raises many questions, CNN correspondent says

From CNN's Kathleen Magramo

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after it was struck by a large ship is a "very significant crash" and will raise many questions, CNN correspondent Gabe Cohen said.

"This is a very important bridge. This is along 695 and the videos that are emerging are surreal — to see this container ship collide with the bridge and very quickly that bridge crumbles into several pieces down into the water," said Cohen, who is traveling to the scene in Baltimore.

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Mapbox

Rescue crews are searching for at least seven people in the Patapsco River after multiple vehicles fell into the water when the bridge collapsed, a Baltimore City Fire Department spokesperson earlier told the Associated Press.

Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department, told the AP the bridge collapse was a "developing mass casualty event."  

The interstate is used by a lot of commuters alongside a high volume of cargo shipping, CNN's Cohen said.

"[It] is not just around the Baltimore area, but for those who travel between Washington and New York, it is highly trafficked," he said. "I've taken that bridge dozens of times across the mid-Atlantic northeast region as you’re trying to cross between cities."
4:47 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

Rescue crews reportedly searching for 7 people after Baltimore bridge collapse

From CNN's Melissa Alonso 

A view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after it collapsed, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in this picture released on March 26.
A view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after it collapsed, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., in this picture released on March 26. Harford County MD Fire & EMS/Reuters

Rescue crews are searching for at least seven people in the Patapsco River after multiple vehicles fell into the water when the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed overnight, a Baltimore City Fire Department spokesperson told the Associated Press.

Local agencies received 911 calls at around 1:30 a.m. ET reporting that a ship, traveling outbound from Baltimore, had struck a column on the bridge, Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department told AP. 

 “This is a dire emergency,” he said. 

“Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,” Cartwright told the outlet.

The official called the collapse a “developing mass casualty event.”  

Cartwright said it appeared there are “some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,” making conditions unsafe and unstable for emergency responders operating at the scene.

CNN has reached out to Baltimore City Fire Department, Maryland Department of Transportation and US Coast Guard for additional information.  

4:20 a.m. ET, March 26, 2024

What to know about the Francis Scott Key Bridge

From CNN's Kathleen Magramo

A truck crosses Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 14, 2021.
A truck crosses Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 14, 2021. Brendan Smialowski /AFP/Getty Images/File

The 1.6-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge extends over the Patapsco River into the Port of Baltimore, according to the Maryland Transport Authority (MTA).

The bridge, which opened in 1977, is named after the author of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the MTA says on its website. Francis Scott Key is believed to have sat near the site of the bridge as he witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814, inspiring him to write the words of the US national anthem.

The Port of Baltimore handled more than 52 million tons of international cargo worth over $80 billion last year — the ninth-highest total among US ports, according to the Maryland government's website.

The port supports 15,330 direct jobs and 139,180 jobs in Maryland, according to the site.