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Six construction workers were presumed dead after a cargo ship struck the Francis Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing it to collapse into the Patapsco River. The incident occurred as the nearly 1,000 feet-long Singapore-flagged container ship, known as the Dali, was heading out of Baltimore Harbor for Sri Lanka. The ship hit a support pylon of the bridge at around 1:30 a.m. ET, causing the structure to crumple into the water. A search-and-rescue effort was suspended on Tuesday evening, and Maryland Governor Wes Moore praised the ship’s crew for sending a critical emergency alert that helped clear the bridge of car traffic prior to the collision.

The Dali had been involved in a minor incident in Belgium’s Port of Antwerp in 2016, where it suffered damages after hitting a stone wall of the quay during unmooring maneuvers. The ship remained afloat and was repaired following the incident. Additionally, an inspection in Chile in June last year found propulsion and auxiliary machinery deficiencies. However, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore confirmed that the Dali had passed overseas inspections and carried necessary certificates for structural integrity and functionality at the time of the Baltimore bridge incident. The ship had undergone and passed two foreign port state inspections in June and September last year, with any identified issues being addressed prior to departure.

Danish shipping giant Maersk confirmed that they had chartered the Dali, expressing horror at the events in Baltimore and stating that the vessel was carrying cargo for Maersk customers. The company emphasized that no Maersk crew or personnel were onboard the vessel at the time of the incident. The expansion of the Panama Canal in 2016 has allowed Baltimore’s port to handle some of the world’s largest cargo ships, which arrive from Asia and other regions. The port deals with a variety of goods including automobiles, sugar, coal, and machinery. The incident has raised concerns about potential supply chain disruptions and the safety measures in place for vessels navigating busy shipping channels.

The Dali’s crew had reportedly notified authorities of power issues before the collision, indicating a possible technical malfunction or accident. Video footage of the disaster shows the bridge collapsing into the water almost immediately after being struck by the cargo ship. Maryland Governor Wes Moore commended the crew for their actions that helped prevent further car traffic on the bridge, potentially saving lives in what he described as a heroic effort. The incident has prompted investigations into the circumstances surrounding the collision and the safety protocols of the shipping industry to prevent similar accidents in the future.

The Dali’s history of incidents in Belgium and Chile raised concerns about its safety record, despite passing overseas inspections and carrying relevant certificates at the time of the Baltimore bridge incident. Authorities are likely to scrutinize the vessel’s maintenance and compliance with international maritime regulations to determine the cause of the collision and assess any potential systemic issues that need to be addressed. Maersk, as the charterer of the ship, has pledged to cooperate with investigations and keep their customers informed about any developments. The impact of the incident on the global supply chain and the port’s operations remains a concern as authorities work to restore normalcy and ensure the safety of maritime traffic in the region.

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