Advertisement

Baltimore Bridge Collapses After Being Struck by Cargo Ship in 'Mass Casualty' Event

The vessel struck the Francis Key Scott Bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning

<p>JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock</p> A bridge in Baltimore collapsed on Tuesday after being struck by a container ship

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A bridge in Baltimore collapsed on Tuesday after being struck by a container ship

A bridge in Baltimore has collapsed after being hit by a large container ship.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed into the Patapsco River in the early hours of Tuesday morning and sent several vehicles into the river, according to multiple outlets.

Baltimore City Fire Department spokesperson Kevin Cartwright told CNN that the collapse was a "mass casualty multi agency incident.”

“This is a dire emergency,” Cartwright told the Associated Press. “Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people.”

Rescue workers are searching for up to 20 people, according to CNN. "Unfortunately, we understand that there are up to 20 individuals who may be in the Patapsco River as well as multiple vehicles," Cartwright told the outlet.

Speaking during a press conference on Tuesday morning, Baltimore Fire Department Chief James Wallace said two people had been rescued from the water, per CNN. One of the individuals was uninjured, while the second was transferred to the hospital in a "very serious condition."

<p>JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock</p> A bridge in Baltimore collapsed on Tuesday after being struck by a container ship.

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A bridge in Baltimore collapsed on Tuesday after being struck by a container ship.

Wallace added that authorities are continuing to search for upwards of seven people. “We are still very much in an active search and rescue posture at this point, and we will continue to be for some time,” Wallace said, per the outlet.

Fire dept. spokesperson Cartwright told WTOP that at least seven vehicles had fallen into the river and a dive team had been deployed to help rescue those in the water.

Cartwright also told CNN that conditions were "unsafe" for rescuers due to "some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge" following the collision with the 900-ft cargo ship.

<p>Getty</p> The Francis Scott Key Bridge

Getty

The Francis Scott Key Bridge

In footage shared on X (formerly Twitter) by the Harford County, MD Volunteer Fire & EMS, a large portion of the bridge, which opened in 1977, can be seen collapsing into the water.

The ship caught fire after the incident, according to AP, and black smoke was seen billowing out of it.

<p>Harford County Md Fire & EMS PIO Media Page/Facebook</p> Several vehicles were sent into the water when the bridge collapsed, according to authorities

Harford County Md Fire & EMS PIO Media Page/Facebook

Several vehicles were sent into the water when the bridge collapsed, according to authorities

According to MarineTraffic, a ship-tracking company, per ABC News, the container ship was a Singapore-flagged vessel and struck the bridge at around 1:30 a.m. local time. It was heading to Sri Lanka, according to the tracker.

The bridge — part of the Interstate 6-95 — is a major artery for the people of Baltimore, which has the 9th-largest port in the U.S., with more than 12 million cars crossing over the four-lane bridge last year, Good Morning America reported.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said in a post shared on X shortly after the incident, "I'm aware of and en route to the incident at the Key Bridge. I have been in contact with @BaltimoreFire Chief Wallace, @GovWesMoore @JohnnyOJr, and @AACoExec. Emergency personnel are on scene, and efforts are underway."

In a statement shared on X, Maryland Governor Wes Moore declared a "state of emergency" in Baltimore shortly before 5:45 a.m. local time.

<p>JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock</p> Authorities described Tuesday morning's incident as a 'mass casualty' event

JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Authorities described Tuesday morning's incident as a 'mass casualty' event

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden Administration," the statement read in part. "We are thankful for the brave men and women who are carrying out efforts to rescue those involved and pray for everyone’s safety."

"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," the statement concluded.

PEOPLE has reached out to the Baltimore City Fire Department, the Baltimore Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard for additional information.

This is a breaking news situation. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.