Key Bridge in Baltimore collapses into the Patapsco River after a vessel strikes a support column; a state of emergency is proclaimed.

Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning after a support column was struck by a vessel, sending cars and at least one tractor-trailer into the Patapsco River and prompting Gov. Wes Moore to declare a state of emergency.

A spokesperson for the Baltimore City Fire Department said a major rescue operation was underway with all lanes closed and with all traffic being rerouted from the 1.6-mile steel bridge that is part of Interstate 695.

“The entire bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River,” said Kevin Cartwright, the director of communications for the Baltimore Fire Department.

“We have reason to believe that there were vehicles and possibly a tractor-trailer” that went into the water, Cartwright said.

He said authorities were searching for at least seven people in the water as of 3 a.m. but the number of vehicles that may have been impacted or traveling on the bridge is unknown.

Moore said in a statement that he has declared a state of emergency and will work to “quickly deploy federal resources.”

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

A spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said the 948-foot cargo ship Dali struck the bridge at approximately 1:20 a.m. In video from the incident, black smoke can be seen from the vessel.

“We are deploying assets in response,” said Petty Officer First Class Matthew West, including two response boats from Curtis Bay and one from Annapolis. A helicopter was also deployed to assist in the “search and rescue” and several police helicopters were seen circling the area Tuesday morning.

West said he had no additional information on the Dali, a Singapore-flagged ship, including whether officials had been in contact with the ship since the collision or its current status.

The ship was built in 2015 and arriving from Norfolk, Virginia, according to Vessel Finder, a ship tracking website. It departed from the Port of Baltimore around 1:00 a.m. and was headed for Sri Lanka, according to MarineTraffic, a separate tracking website.

The National Data Buoy Center reported water temperatures in that area of the Patapsco were about 49 degrees at 4 a.m. The air temperature was 41 and winds were light.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in a social media post that he was aware of the incident, and was in contact with Moore and local officials. Scott said he was heading to the scene.

“Emergency personnel are on scene, and efforts are underway,” Scott said on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

Also on X, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said he’d been in contact with Moore and Scott and had offered the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “support following the vessel strike and collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge.”

The Maryland Department of Emergency Management has staff on-site, and is coordinating with the governor’s office, the state police and the traffic authority in response to the bridge collapse. Agency spokesman Travis Brown said that the department has raised its emergency operation center’s status to advanced, and that the state joint operations center is “in full swing.”

The Maryland Transportation Authority noted on social media that I-95 and I-895 tunnels are alternative ways to travel across the harbor. Vehicles transporting hazardous materials, however, are prohibited in tunnels and “should use the western section of I-695 around tunnels,” the authority posted.

The Key Bridge, which opened in March 1977 after five years of construction and cost an estimated $110 million, is named for the writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The bridge is one of the Baltimore harbor’s three toll crossings.

Baltimore Sun reporters Christine Condon, Natalie Jones, Hannah Gaskill and Sam Janesch contributed to this article.

The bridge carried more than 12.4 million commercial and passenger vehicles in 2023, according to a Maryland state government report issued last November.

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