Officials stopped traffic onto Baltimore's Key Bridge before collapse: 'These people are heroes'

No vehicles were transiting the bridge during the incident, a briefing said.

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Baltimore Bridge Collapse
Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Officials were able to stop the flow of traffic onto the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore before a massive cargo ship crashed into a support column, helping to save lives in the disaster, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

The container ship Dali issued a mayday call as it approached the 1.6-mile-long bridge at about eight knots, a "very rapid speed," Moore said. Following that notification, officials were able to prevent more cars from going onto the bridge before the collapse, he said.

Video shows Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse after ship strike

"These people are heroes," Moore told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday. "They saved lives last night."

After personnel on the ship alerted the Maryland Department of Transportation that they lost control of the vessel, local authorities were able to close the bridge before it was struck, "which undoubtedly saved lives," President Joe Biden said Tuesday during remarks on the disaster.

A review of traffic cameras by Maryland transportation officials confirmed there were "no vehicles transiting the bridge at the time of the incident," according to an internal U.S. Department of Homeland Security briefing obtained by ABC News.

The Singapore-flagged vessel struck the bridge at about 1:30 a.m. ET, causing the bridge to partially collapse, officials said. Authorities said several workers who were part of a maintenance team fixing potholes on the span went into the water, along with multiple vehicles.

RELATED: The history of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge

Six people were missing and presumed dead, and the search for them was suspended until the next day, Coast Guard officials announced Tuesday night.

Rescuers pulled two people out of the water. One person was treated at a hospital and discharged hours later.

"To the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones, all our hearts are broken," Moore said. "In the face of heartbreak, we come together, we embrace each other."

Moore said there was no credible evidence that the crash involved terrorism. He said it appeared to be a tragic accident.

PHOTOS: Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapses after cargo ship rams into support column

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A container ship rests against wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, as seen from Pasadena, Md.
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

According to a Coast Guard memo obtained by ABC News, a harbor pilot and an assistant aboard the cargo ship reported the power issues that prompted multiple alarms on the bridge of the vessel and loss of propulsion.

The bridge is part of Interstate 695 and crosses the Patapsco River, in Baltimore Harbor.

An estimated 30,000 vehicles crossed the bridge per day, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority.

ABC News' Josh Margolin and Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.