Rescue ongoing as cars and people fall into water after ship strike causes Baltimore bridge to collapse

A major bridge has collapsed in the US city of Baltimore after it was hit by a cargo ship.

Footage shows a large section of the 1.6-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge falling into the Patapsco River, following the collision at around 1.30am local time (5.30am UK time).

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Vehicles can be seen in the video falling from the bridge.

Six people remain unaccounted for after two people were rescued from the water.

One of those rescued was in a "very serious condition" and is receiving treatment in hospital while the other was not injured.

According to officials, the ship had issued a mayday call to authorities that it had lost power before the collision. They later said it had lost propulsion and had dropped its anchors before the crash.

Baltimore bridge latest: Follow live updates

CCTV and marine tracking data shows the ship, known as the Dali, lose power, adjust its course and start smoking around 60 seconds before it hits the bridge.

All Baltimore port traffic has been suspended until further notice, the Maryland Transport Authority, said.

In an update on Tuesday afternoon, Wes Moore, governor of Baltimore, and Paul Wiedefeld, secretary of the Maryland Transport Authority, said those still missing are believed to be construction workers who were on the bridge fixing potholes.

All 22 crew members on board the ship, including the two pilots, have been accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.

Mr Moore said intel from a preliminary investigation points to an accident. He said there is no evidence of a terrorism-related attack.

"To the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones all of our hearts are broken we feel your loss we are thinking of you," Mr Moore said.

"We pray for the construction workers who were on the bridge and all who have been touched by this tragedy
We will get through this."

Mayor of Baltimore, Brandon Scott, declared a local state of emergency which will be in place for the next 30 days as the search for the missing continues.

He said earlier that the collapse "looked like something out of an action movie".

The National Transportation Safety Board is also conducting an investigation into the incident.

More on the bridge collapse:
What do we know about bridge and the ship that hit it?
How did catastrophe happen?

The 289m-long container ship was headed to Colombo in Sri Lanka at the time of the collision.

It was chartered by Danish shipping company Maersk, which said it was "horrified by what has happened". It said its thoughts were with everyone affected.

The same ship was previously involved in a minor incident when it hit a quay at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium in 2016, according to Vessel Finder and maritime accident site Shipwrecklog.

The vessel was reportedly damaged in the incident, but there were no injuries or pollution issues reported.

Bridge is 'major artery' for locals

The bridge, which is referred to locally as the Key Bridge, was described as a "major artery" for the area by resident Michael Brown.

"This is like an April Fools' joke right now," Mr Brown told Sky News's US partner network NBC.

"It [the bridge] is a major artery in the area not only for traffic but for the port. Hopefully, everyone is okay that is involved."

Mr Brown said he uses the bridge to visit family and its destruction is a "major issue" - but he noted the "emphasis should be on getting whoever is in the water out".

The Interstate 695 - the road which runs across the bridge - was closed and traffic rerouted by the Maryland Transport Authority.

Impact on trade

The Port of Baltimore, which oceangoing ships reach by going under the bridge, is the 11th largest in the US, meaning its closure will cause knock-on effects for the industry.

Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd's List - which provides news on the global maritime industry - said the collision will be a "significant and expensive" operation in terms of diverting marine traffic, the implications on trade and the rebuilding of the bridge itself.

According to data from MarineTraffic, around 40 ships remain inside the closed port, with a further 30 having signalled that the port was their destination.

Built in 1977, the Key Bridge is one of the longest continuous truss bridges in the world, according to the National Steel Bridge Alliance.

It was named after the writer of The Star-Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the US, which was penned after a War of 1812 US-UK battle in Baltimore harbour.

David MacKenzie, chair of engineering consultancy, COWIfonden, predicted that rebuilding the bridge will cost 10 times more than the approximate $60m (£47m) spent on building it in the first place.

Tune into a special edition of The World with Yalda Hakim on Sky News tonight at 9pm.