Baltimore bridge collapses after S’pore-flagged ship collision; search under way for survivors, Latest World News - The New Paper

Baltimore bridge collapses after S’pore-flagged ship collision; search under way for survivors

BALTIMORE – A container ship smashed into a four-lane bridge in the US port of Baltimore in darkness on March 26, causing it to collapse and sending cars and people plunging into the river below.

Rescuers pulled out two survivors, one in a “very serious condition” and the other uninjured, and were searching for more in the Patapsco River after huge spans of the 2.6km Francis Scott Key Bridge crumpled into the water.

The ship “lost propulsion” as it was leaving port, and the crew on board notified Maryland officials that it had lost control of the vessel, ABC News reported, citing an unclassified US intelligence report.

“The vessel notified Maryland Department of Transportation that they had lost control of the vessel and a collision with the bridge was possible,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was quoted saying. “The vessel struck the bridge causing a complete collapse.”

Baltimore officials said at least seven vehicles plunged into the water but could not give an exact figure.

Baltimore City Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright earlier told Reuters that as many as 20 people could be in the river along with “numerous vehicles, and possibly a tractor-trailer or a vehicle as large as a tractor-trailer, (that) went into the river”.

“This is a mass-casualty, multi-agency event,” he said. “This operation is going to extend for many days.”

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the ongoing search and rescue efforts, the White House said.

The disaster may be the worst US bridge collapse since 2007, when the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13.

A live video posted on YouTube shows the ship ploughing into the bridge in darkness. The headlights of vehicles can be seen on the bridge as it crashes into the water and the ship catches fire.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency to quickly deploy federal resources to deal with the emergency. The FBI in Baltimore said on X its personnel were “on scene”.

At a news conference, Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said there was no indication of terrorism or that the collision was done on purpose.

Baltimore is the busiest US port for car shipments, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2022, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge resting partially collapsed after a container ship ran into it in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Shipping in and out of one of the busiest ports in the United States has been suspended, Maryland’s transportation secretary said.

“Vessel traffic into and out of the Port of Baltimore is suspended until further notice, but the port is still open for truck transactions,” Mr Paul Wiedefeld told reporters.

“We received several 911 calls at around 1.30am that a vessel struck the Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the collapse,” Mr Cartwright said.

Baltimore police said they were notified of the incident at 1.35am ET (1.35pm Singapore time) on March 26.

The ship was identified by LSEG ship-tracking data as a Singapore-flagged container ship, the Dali.

The registered owner of the ship is Grace Ocean and the manager is Synergy Marine Group.


Synergy Marine Corp said the Dali collided with one of the pillars of the bridge and that all its crew members, including the two pilots, had been accounted for and there were no reports of any injuries. 

In response to The Straits Times’ queries, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) confirmed that a Singapore-registered vessel collided with the Francis Scott Key bridge at about 1.30pm Singapore Time on March 26.

The Dali is a 95,000 gross tonnage container vessel operating with 22 crew onboard at the time of the incident, it said.

MPA is in contact with the US Coast Guard and the ship’s management company to provide necessary assistance. It added that as the flag state, MPA will provide full cooperation to the US Coast Guard in its investigations, and will also be investigating the incident.

The Dali was chartered by shipping company Maersk at the time of the accident, the Danish company said in a statement.

“We are horrified by what has happened in Baltimore, and our thoughts are with all of those affected,” Maersk said.

Baltimore Fire Department Chief James Wallace (centre) with Mayor Brandon Scott (right) speaking to reporters on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26. PHOTO: AFP



The Dali was set to depart Baltimore early on March 26 and arrive in Colombo on April 22, according to a schedule on Maersk’s website.

“All lanes closed both directions for incident on I-695 Key Bridge. Traffic is being detoured,” Maryland Transportation Authority said in a post on X.

It was not immediately clear if the Baltimore port operations were impacted due to the bridge collapse.

The port’s private and public terminals handled 847,158 cars and light trucks in 2023, the most of any US port.

The port handles imports and exports for major carmakers, including Nissan, Toyota, General Motors, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover and the Volkswagen group – including luxury models for Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley.

It also handles farm and construction machinery, sugar, gypsum and coal, according to a Maryland government website.

A view of the Singapore-flagged container ship Dali after it collided with a pillar of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, US, on March 26. PHOTO: REUTERS

More than 40 ships remained inside Baltimore port, including small cargo ships, tugboats and pleasure craft, data from ship-tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic showed. At least 30 other ships had signalled that their destination was Baltimore, the data showed.

The port did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said the incident was an “unthinkable tragedy”, adding that “we have to be thinking about the families and people impacted, folks who we have to try to find”.

He described images of the collision as “like something out of an action movie”.

Water temperatures were around 9 deg C, narrowing the window of survivability.

Baltimore’s fire chief James Wallace said sonar had “detected the presence of vehicles” in the harbour, but declined to estimate how many.

The bridge, named after American lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key, author of US national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner, opened in 1977 and cost an estimated US$60.3 million to build. – REUTERS

  • Additional reporting by Lok Jian Wen