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Key Baltimore Beltway bridge smashed by cargo ship.

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Key Baltimore Beltway bridge smashed by cargo ship.

It was after 1.00 in the morning on Tuesday March 26th., and the container ship Dali, registered in Singapore, had pulled out of Dundalk Marine Terminal on the Patapsco River in the Eastern Baltimore suburbs. She was fully laden and had just begun a long journey which would take her across the Atlantic Ocean to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

However, she would never make it. As she approached the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a mere three miles into her journey, video footage appeared to indicate that she lost power, with the result that she began to drift. Attempts to use emergency generators brought the lights back on but these were apparently unable to supply enough power to keep the Dali on course to pass safely under the bridge. The dramatic footage showed that at 1.28am the Dali struck one of the bridge’s main two support pylons, which sent the whole huge structure tumbling into the water like a pack of cards.

The footage also showed that there had been cars and trucks moving on the bridge just before the strike, but not as the bridge collapsed. The reason for this was that the ship’s two local Baltimore pilots had sent out a “Mayday” alert on the radio, and the police had immediately closed the bridge to traffic in both directions. Kudos to everyone involved for acting so quickly. As it was one of the police officers was just radioing in to report that no further vehicles were travelling towards the bridge from his side, when he witnessed the whole thing collapse in front of his eyes.

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