People, vehicles fall into water as bridge hit by ship collapses in USA

In a disastrous occurrence, a major bridge collapsed in the US city of Baltimore after it was hit by a cargo ship plunging vehicles and people into the water.

Footage shows a large section of the 1.6-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge falling into the Patapsco River, following the collision at around 1.30am local time (5.30am UK time).

Vehicles can be seen in the video falling from the bridge.

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Up to 20 people were reported to be in the water, according to Baltimore’s fire service.

Baltimore bridge latest: Follow live updates

Chief Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore City Fire Department, said earlier that they were searching for at least seven people.

Pic: Andrew Doyle
Pic: Andrew Doyle

He said the main focus right now was “trying to rescue and recover these people”.

He said it was too early to know how many people were affected, but described the collapse as a “developing mass casualty event”.

Mr Cartwright said it appears there were “some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,” creating unsafe and unstable conditions, and that emergency service workers were operating cautiously as a result.

“This is a dire emergency,” he added.

The container ship, known as the Dali, was headed to Colombo in Sri Lanka at the time of the collision.

Data from MarineTraffic showed the Singapore-flagged ship came to a halt at the bridge.

The first ship to arrive at the scene around 10 minutes later was tug Eric Mcallister, according to the data.

It was joined by a second tug Bridget Mcallister, alongside a search and rescue vessel, around 25 minutes after the bridge was hit.

The bridge before the collapse. File pic: Jon Bilous / Alamy
The bridge before the collapse. File pic: Jon Bilous / Alamy

At least 10 boats are currently involved in the rescue operation.

Synergy Marine Group, the company that owns the container ship, said all crew members, including the two pilots, have been accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.

The company said the exact cause of the incident is yet to be determined.

‘Most likely cause is failure in machinery’

David McFarlane, director of Maritime Risk and Safety Consultants Ltd, told Sky News that the most likely cause of the incident is a “failure in machinery or steering gear” rather than human error.

He said: “The first thing that springs to my mind is: was there a sudden fault with the ship’s engines or the steering gear? The other, of course, is: was there a navigational error?”

He said there “should be no room for one person errors” because of the number of other people on duty at the time.

“The most likely cause of this is a failure in machinery or steering gear, but we just won’t know until the authorities have been on board. And even then, they’re unlikely to say what’s been going on for some considerable time,” Mr McFarlane said.

Sky News

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