The steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sits on top of a container ship after it struck the bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024.

Roberto Schmidt | AFP | Getty Images

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge partially collapsed in the early hours of Tuesday morning following a ship collision, with multiple people believed to have fallen in water.

The bridge carries Interstate 695 across the Patapsco River, southeast of the Baltimore metropolitan area.

The Tuesday incident took place at 1:35 a.m. local time on Tuesday, according to a Baltimore City police spokesperson. A large container ship hit the bridge overnight, and there appeared to be personnel on the crossing at the time of the collision, Baltimore Fire Department Battalion Chief Glenn Kukucka told CNBC by phone. He added that the vessel involved in the collision appeared to have sustained damage.

“This is a very large incident, it involves a very large footprint,” Baltimore City Fire Department Chief James W. Wallace said in a press briefing.

He noted that upward of seven people are suspected to have fallen in the water at this time. Two people were rescued, with one transported to a trauma center in very serious condition.

A general view shows the Francis Scott Key Bridge, as seen from the Baltimore side, following the bridge collapse, in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard

Nathan Howard | Reuters

The fire department chief said sonar scans had detected the presence of submerged vehicles, but could not disclose the number of cars involved.

The rescue operation is being encumbered by darkness and water temperature conditions, the fire department chief added.

Major bridge in Baltimore collapses after being struck by ship

“The latest information we have on the crew of the ship is that they still are on board of the ship,” Wallace said, adding that rescue agents must first do a damage assessment of the vessel before being able to board. Asked if the ship was suffering any technical impairments, he said, “We do not have that information.”

“There is absolutely no indication that there was any terrorism, that this was done on purpose,” a Baltimore police spokesperson said during the briefing Tuesday. “There is absolutely no indication that this was intentional.”

Completed in 1977, the bridge took the name of Francis Scott Key, whose poem was the foundation of the U.S. national anthem.

Maersk confirms chartering vessel

The vessel that collided with the bridge has been identified by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The steel frame of the Francis Scott Key Bridge sit on top of a container ship after the bridge collapsed collapsed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. 

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

“USCG confirms the ship is the 948-ft DALI vessel. USCG has deployed three response boats, and pollution responders are en route from the Sector Maryland-National Capital Region,” the U.S. Coast Guard’s Matthew West told NBC News.

Shipping data indicates that the Singapore-flagged container vessel is under the management of Synergy Marine Group, which said in a statement to CNBC that all 22 crew members on board, including two pilots, had been accounted for.

The company noted that the exact cause of the incident was yet to be determined.

Marine traffic data suggests the ship was bound for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Maersk later confirmed chartering the vessel.

“We can confirm that the container vessel ‘DALI’, operated by charter vessel company Synergy Group, is time chartered by Maersk and is carrying Maersk customers’ cargo. No Maersk crew and personnel were onboard the vessel,” the company said.

“We are closely following the investigations conducted by authorities and Synergy, and we will do our utmost to keep our customers informed.”

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said in a statement it “will provide full cooperation to the US Coast Guard in its investigations.”

State of emergency

The office of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said emergency personnel remained on the scene after the bridge’s collapse.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley, with Mayor Brandon Scott (R) and Fire Department Chief James Wallace (L), speaks at a press conference on the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge Baltimore, Maryland, on March 26, 2024. 

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

“I have declared a State of Emergency here in Maryland and we are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration,” the governor said.

“We will remain in close contact with federal, state, and local entities that are carrying out rescue efforts as we continue to assess and respond to this tragedy.”

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that the Francis Scott Key Bridge carries Interstate 695 and crosses the Patapsco River.

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