Maryland governor declares State of Emergency following Baltimore bridge collapse

A State of Emergency has been declared after a section of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in the Baltimore Harbor in the early morning hours Tuesday. 

The bridge was hit by a large container ship after the vessel reportedly lost power around 1:30 a.m. The impact caused the bridge structure to buckle and snap, sending cars plummeting into the frigid river. 

Baltimore Fire Department director of communications Kevin Cartwright is calling this a "developing mass casualty event." 

Officials say sonar has detected the presence of the vehicles in the river but it's not yet known how many people were in those vehicles.

A construction crew of eight people were on the bridge filling potholes at the time of the collapse. So far, it’s known that two members of the crew were rescued — one in serious condition. At least six others are believed to be in the water. 

Divers from several different agencies, including the FBI, have been scouring the river for hours searching for victims. 

Is Maryland in a State of Emergency?

Governor Wes Moore declared a State of Emergency for Maryland Tuesday morning and says his office is working to deploy federal resources to help manage the collapse.

A State of Emergency allows the governor to access certain resources, like the National Guard, to bolster the state's response.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday morning, Moore said the news came as a shocking tragedy for all across the state. 

"For every single one of us who are Marylanders, the words ‘the Key Bridge is gone’, it still shakes us," Moore said. "For 47 years that’s all we’ve known and so, this is…not just unprecedented, it’s heartbreaking." 

He added that a mayday call did go out in the minutes prior to the crash, giving authorities time to close the bridge to traffic. 

"We can confirm that a crew notified authorities of a power issue," he said. "Literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives."  

President Joe Biden also confirmed that the Coast Guard is taking a lead on searching the river for possible victims. 

What does a State of Emergency mean for Baltimore residents? 

According to the declaration issued by Mayor Brandon M. Scott, the State of Emergency is in place to "protect the persons affected by these circumstances and to address the structural and transportation effects, including implementation of the relevant parts of Baltimore City’s emergency operations plan." 

"We know the governor issued a State of Emergency but we at the local level felt the need to do that too because there may be some things that we have to encumber with fire department and other agencies that we’ll be able to pull down support for as we all work together," Mayor Scott said. 

The order will remain in effect for 30 days. 

"Our teams are mobilizing resources and working swiftly to address this crisis and ensure the safety and well-being of our community," Scott said in a statement on X.


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