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In Baltimore: Francis Scott Key Bridge collapses after being hit by a freighter; 6 workers presumed dead

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A cargo ship lost power and slammed into a key bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, demolishing it in seconds and dumping it into the river in a horrifying collapse that might shut down a critical maritime port for months. Six individuals were missing and thought dead, and the search was halted until Wednesday morning.

The ship’s crew sent a mayday call seconds before the collapse that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge, allowing officials to restrict car traffic on the span, Maryland’s governor said.

As the vessel approached the bridge, plumes of black smoke could be seen as the lights flickered on and off. It crashed into one of the bridge’s supports, causing the structure to fall like a doll.

With the ship approaching the bridge at “a very, very rapid speed,” officials had barely enough time to prevent automobiles from crossing, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.
“These people are heroes,” Moore remarked. “They saved lives last night.”

Col. Roland L. Butler Jr., superintendent of Maryland State Police, said in the evening that the search and rescue effort was being replaced with a search and recovery operation. He also stated that the search had been paused and that divers will return to the location at 6 a.m. Wednesday, when the tough nighttime circumstances were expected to ease. Butler said that no bodies had been retrieved.

The accident occurred in the middle of the night, far before the usual morning traffic on the bridge.

The six persons who went missing were part of a construction crew that was fixing potholes on the bridge, according to Paul Wiedefeld, the state transportation secretary.

The Guatemalan embassy in Maryland announced in a statement that two of the missing were Central American citizens. It did not reveal their names, but stated that consular officers were in contact with authorities and aiding the families.

Head of content and Editor-at-large at – Dickson Ofori Siaw is a blunt writer who loves to make his readers see "the other perspectives of a news story". Follow me on Twitter @kwadwo_dost