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‘Dire Emergency,’ Mass Casualty Event Declared After Baltimore Bridge Collapses

Rescuers are searching for as many as seven people in the frigid waters of the Patapsco River

‘Dire Emergency,’ Mass Casualty Event Declared After Baltimore Bridge Collapses

The Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed early Tuesday morning after a container ship hit the structure, plunging several vehicles into the cold waters of the Patapsco River.

So far, two people have been pulled from the river, one of whom is in serious condition, according to Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace.

“[We] may be looking for upwards of seven people,” he said, per NBC affiliate WFLA.

Wallace said that number could change and that it was unclear if the two rescued were included in the seven.

Other outlets report that as many as 20 people could have been plunged into the water.

Wallace said they have used sonar technology to detect the “presence of vehicles submerged in the water," which WFLA reports to be about 47 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday morning, according to a buoy that collects data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This is a dire emergency,” Kevin Cartwright, director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department, told The Associated Press. “Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people.”

Officials said the ship struck the bridge around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. By 2 a.m., numerous rescue workers responded to what has been described as a mass casualty incident by the Baltimore County Fire Department.

“Never would you think that you would see, physically see, the Key Bridge tumble down like that,” Mayor Brandon M. Scott said. “It looked like something out of an action movie.”

Police Chief Richard Worley ruled out the possibility of terrorism.

“There is absolutely no indication that there’s any terrorism, that this was done on purpose,” he said at a news conference, per CNN.

At 6 a.m., Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a State of Emergency.

“We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden administration,” he announced on X.

“We are thankful for the brave men and women who are carrying out efforts to rescue those involved and pray for everyone’s safety,” he added.

“The ship is a 948-foot-long cargo vessel named Dali,” The New York Times reports. “All crew members, including two pilots onboard, have been accounted for and there were no injuries on the ship, the owners said.”

CNN reports the ship was chartered by Danish shipping company Maersk.

"We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected," the company said in a statement. "We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed.”

The Dali was headed from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and flying under a Singapore flag, according to data from Marine Traffic, AP reports.

Around 7:30 a.m., Maryland State Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld confirmed there were contractors working on the bridge when it collapsed.

"This is an active search and rescue mission," he said, referring to the bridge's collapse as "catastrophic."

“Alternate routes to cross the harbor are through I-95 and I-895 with the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-95) and Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-895),” CBS Baltimore reports.

"I am expecting that folks will have delays of over an hour this morning because the impacts are not only going to be felt here in the local neighborhoods, but for all of those people who normally don't even travel that southeast corridor of 695," the outlet’s First Alert Traffic reporter Angela Foster said. "If you travel into the tunnels normally you're used to the typical congestion but today, not only will you see excessive delays, you'll likely see authorities there."

This is a developing story. Updates will follow.

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