Francis Scott Key bridge hit by ship

The Dali was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk, which said it will have no choice but to send its ships to other nearby ports with the Port of Baltimore closed.

Writer David Simon, a champion of Baltimore who set his TV crime drama “The Wire” on the streets of the city he once covered as a reporter, warned online that the people who will suffer the most are those whose livelihoods depend on the port.

“Thinking first of the people on the bridge,” Simon posted on X. “But the mind wanders to a port city strangling. All the people who rely on ships in and out.”

Timeline of crash

Dramatic video captured the moment at 1:28 a.m. Tuesday when the Dali struck a support and sent the bridge tumbling into the water. A livestream showed cars and trucks on the bridge just before the collision. The ship did not sink and its lights remained on.

Investigators, in a timeline, said the Dali’s lights suddenly shut off four minutes earlier before coming back on and then, at 1:25 a.m. dark black smoke began billowing from the ship’s chimney.

A minute later, at 1:26 a.m., the ship appeared to turn. And in the minutes before it slammed into the support, the lights flicked off and on again.

Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said the workers on the bridge were repairing concrete ducts when the ship crashed into the structure.

They were employed by Brawner Builders Inc. And at least seven workers were pouring concrete to fix potholes on the roadway on the bridge directly above where the ship hit, a foreman named James Krutzfeldt said.

Krutzfeldt, who was not working on that job, said one of the missing is another foreman who he considers his mentor and “work dad.”

“I’m still kind of in shock,” he said.

Earlier, the U.S. Coast Guard saids received a report that a “motor vessel made impact with the bridge” and confirmed it was the Dali, a container ship sailing under a Singaporean flag that was heading for Sri Lanka.

Bobby Haines, who lives in Dundalk in Baltimore County, said he felt the impact of the bridge collapse from his house nearby.

“I woke up at 1:30 this morning and my house shook and I was freaking out,” he said. “I thought it was an earthquake and to find out it was a bridge is really, really scary.”

Families of bridge workers wait for updates

Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott said at a news conference: “We have to first and foremost pray for all of those who are impacted, those families, and pray for our first responders and thank them, all of them, [for] working together — city, state, local — to make sure that we are working through this tragedy.”

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship
The Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning.Harford County Md Fire & EMS via Getty Images

A group of people who said they were family members of workers employed by Brawner Builders Inc. gathered at a Royal Farms convenience store near the entrance of the bridge.

They said their loved ones were working on the bridge at the time. One woman told NBC News that her father-in-law, Miguel Luna, was among the workers.

They went to the store because it was the closest they could get to the bridge, but were yet to get any formal guidance as to the status of their loved ones, they said.

‘A long road in front of us’

Built in 1977 and referred to locally as the Key Bridge, the structure was later named after the author of the American national anthem.

The bridge is more than 8,500 feet, or 1.2 miles, long in total. Its main section spans 1,200 feet and was one of the longest continuous truss bridges in the world upon its completion, according to the National Steel Bridge Alliance.

About 31,000 vehicles a day use the bridge, which equals 11.3 million vehicles per year, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

The river and the Port of Baltimore are both key to the shipping industry on the East Coast, generating more than $3.3 billion a year and directly employing more than 15,000 people.

Asked what people in Baltimore can expect going forward, the state’s transportation secretary said it is too early to tell.

“Obviously we reached out to a number of engineering companies so obviously we have a long road in front of us,” Wiedefeld said.

Julia Jester reported from Baltimore, Patrick Smith from London and Corky Siesmaszko from New York City.

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