After the collapse of a large car bridge in the US state of Maryland, the authorities assume that six people are missing. The US Coast Guard has now announced that it is ceasing the active search for survivors. Given the water temperature, it is no longer expected that anyone will be found alive after so many hours. A Coast Guard representative said they did not want to risk the health of rescue workers because of the dangerous currents and debris in the water.

A huge container ship rammed the four-lane, more than 2.5 kilometer long car bridge on Tuesday night, causing it to collapse. After the accident, police and rescue workers searched for several missing people from the air and in the water for many hours – divers and infrared and sonar technology were also used. Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld said the missing people were believed to be construction workers. They had therefore repaired potholes on the bridge.

Everything points to an accident

According to Maryland Governor Wes Moore, the Singapore-flagged container ship was heading toward the Francis Scott Key Bridge “at eight knots, which is extremely fast.” According to authorities, there was no evidence of an intentional act or even a terrorist attack. Everything pointed to an accident, they said.

The almost 290 meter long ship named “Dali” was supposed to sail from Baltimore to Sri Lanka, as the “New York Times” reported, citing the US Coast Guard. The Danish shipping company Maersk announced that it had temporarily chartered the ship, which was operated by the charter company Synergy Group. Accordingly, there were no Maersk personnel on the ship. The Danish container shipping company is the second largest in the world behind industry leader MSC.

Problem with the ship’s power supply

According to initial findings, there was a problem with the ship’s power supply before the accident. US media reported, citing the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, that there was a “temporary loss of propulsion”, which is why the “Dali” was unable to maintain its course. According to US authorities, the crew managed to inform authorities in Maryland via a distress signal that they had lost control of the ship. Officials on land were apparently able to stop traffic and prevent more cars from getting onto the bridge.

According to official information, the first emergency calls were received around 1:40 a.m. (local time). Emergency services were on site as early as 1:50 a.m. Surveillance camera videos shared on social media showed the ship ramming one of the support pillars, causing large parts of the bridge to collapse into the water.

Around 30,000 vehicles on the bridge every day

The US Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident. It will probably take some time until official results are available about the cause of the accident. The emergency services initially concentrated on searching for the missing people.

The Port of Baltimore is one of the most important maritime ports of call in the USA – especially for the import and export of cars and light trucks. According to government figures, around 850,000 vehicles are shipped through the port every year. Around 15,000 jobs depend on it. The bridge also destroyed an important traffic artery on the east coast of the USA. According to the US government, around 30,000 vehicles crossed the bridge per day before the accident.