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A giant container ship struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore causing most of the bridge to collapse into the Patapsco River. Governor Wes Moore declared a state of emergency after the incident, halting vessel traffic and suspending the search and rescue operation for the six missing construction workers who are presumed dead. Although there is no evidence of a terrorist attack, the focus is on finding potential survivors on the bridge. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident, as the cargo vessel, The Dali, lost power and hit a critical component of the bridge while leaving the Port of Baltimore.

Coast Guard and state police officials have cited cold water temperatures and the time that has elapsed since the incident as reasons for the workers being presumed dead, with attempts to recover their bodies ongoing. The ship, registered in Singapore, was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a capacity of more than twice the 4,700 shipping containers it was carrying. Despite the ship’s crew being unharmed, the road repair crew on the bridge remained as the ship approached. The cause of the crash and why the repair crew stayed on the bridge is unclear.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was completed in 1977 and spans over the Patapsco River. More than 12.4 million vehicles crossed the bridge in 2023, making it a critical transportation link in the area. The collapse of the bridge could potentially have been prevented with better protection for the pylons holding up the structure, such as blocking devices called fenders. President Biden has indicated that the federal government will cover the costs of rebuilding the bridge, calling on Congress to support funding efforts for the repairs. The incident has raised concerns about the safety of infrastructure and the need for proper protective measures to prevent such accidents in the future.

The crew of The Dali, which included two Baltimore port pilots, were all accounted for and there were no injuries among those on the ship. A spokesman for the ship’s owner, Grace Ocean Investment, did not comment on the deficiency found during an inspection of the vessel in Chile last year. The ship had 27 inspections since 2015, with another deficiency related to seaworthiness in 2016 at the port of Antwerp. The focus remains on recovering the bodies of the missing workers and determining the cause of the collision between the cargo vessel and the bridge.

The tragic incident in Baltimore has left the community reeling from the loss of the construction workers and the impact on transportation in the area. Governor Moore’s declaration of a state of emergency and the ongoing investigation into the cause of the accident highlight the need for improved safety measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. The national response, including President Biden’s commitment to funding the bridge’s reconstruction, underscores the importance of infrastructure and public safety. As the search and recovery efforts continue, the impact of the bridge collapse on the community and the transportation network remains a significant concern for residents and officials alike.

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