Baltimore's Key Bridge collapses: What we know so far

(NEXSTAR) — Early Tuesday morning, the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a major bridge in Baltimore, collapsed just seconds after being struck by a cargo ship.

Video posted to social media showed the bridge bend, snap, and plunge into the river below, sending several vehicles into the chilly waters. Crews have since been searching for survivors.

“Never would you think that you would see, physically see, the Key Bridge tumble down like that. It looked like something out of an action movie,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said early Tuesday, calling it “an unthinkable tragedy.”

Here’s what we know so far.

What do we know about the victims?

During a Tuesday press conference, authorities confirmed they believe only a construction crew of eight people, repairing potholes, and their vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collision. The repairs had “nothing to do with a structural issue at all on the facility,” Maryland Secretary of Transportation Paul J. Wiedefeld noted.

He added that one person had been rescued and taken to the hospital in critical condition, and another person declined care.  The search continues for the six additional members of that construction crew, according to Wiedefeld.

While authorities confirmed sonar had detected vehicles in the water, they declined to comment on how many vehicles fell in during the collapse, or if they believe anyone beside the construction crew is in the water.

What do we know about the cargo ship?

The crew on the ship — which was traveling at 8 knots (nearly 10 mph) at the time, according to Gov. Moore — did issue a “mayday,” alerting authorities that it had lost propulsion before the collision. Moore added that that information did allow traffic to be stopped from coming over the bridge, potentially saving even more from falling into the water.

“We’re thankful that between the mayday and collapse, that we had officials who were able to stop the flow of traffic so more cars were not on the bridge,” Moore explained.

Synergy Marine Group — which manages the ship, called the Dali — confirmed the vessel hit a pillar of the bridge at about 1:30 a.m. while in control of one or more pilots, who are local specialists who help navigate vessels safely into ports. The ship is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd.

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It said all crew members, including the two pilots on board, were accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries. Its cargo could be seen dangling over the side.

The Dali was headed from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and flying under a Singapore flag, according to data from Marine Traffic. The container ship is about 985 feet long and about 157 feet wide, according to the website.

Danish shipping giant Maersk said it had chartered the vessel, which was carrying its customers’ cargo. No Maersk crew and personnel were on board.

What do we know about the Francis Scott Key Bridge?

The bridge, located south of Baltimore, spans more than 1.5 miles across the Patapsco River. It opened in March 1977, serving as a major connecting point.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge, named for the writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” has undergone various renovations over the years, but was “up to code,” Gov. Moore said Tuesday.

In 2023, more than 12.4 million vehicles crossed the Key Bridge, according to data collected by NewsNation. Daily, the bridge serves about 30,000 commuters, Moore added.

What’s next in the investigation?

During Tuesday’s press conference, numerous agencies were highlighted for their contributions to the ongoing search efforts.

Authorities listed local, state, and federal agencies, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the FBI.

Moore, as well as Bill DelBagno, the newly-named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, confirmed that “there is no specific or credible threat “there is no specific or credible information to suggest that there are ties to terrorism in this incident.”

For now, Wiedefeld said all vessel traffic into and out of the port would be suspended until further notice, though the facility was still open to trucks.

The investigation will continue and could take months, authorities said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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