Baltimore bridge collapses after ship Strikes it , rescuers searching for at least 7 people

A pre-dawn tragedy struck Baltimore on [DATE] as the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a vital artery carrying Interstate 695 over the Patapsco River, collapsed after a collision with a massive container ship.

The horrific incident sent shockwaves through the city, leaving a scene of devastation and sparking a desperate search for survivors.

Early reports indicate the ship, identified as the Dali, struck a support pillar of the bridge around 1:30 am. 

The impact, captured on dramatic video footage, caused a section of the bridge to crumble and plunge into the frigid waters below. 

Vehicles on the bridge at the time were thrown into the river, raising fears of a significant loss of life.

Baltimore City Fire Chief James Wallace declared the incident a "developing mass casualty event." Emergency responders from the city and surrounding areas rushed to the scene, launching a frantic 

search for survivors in the river. Rescue boats crisscrossed the water, while divers braved the cold and murky depths in search of victims.

The initial focus was on rescuing at least seven people believed to have been on the bridge when it collapsed. Two individuals were pulled from the water – one in critical condition, the other with non-life-threatening injuries. 

However, the chaotic nature of the disaster made it difficult to determine the exact number of missing persons.

Adding to the urgency, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott called the bridge collapse an "unthinkable tragedy."

He acknowledged reports suggesting as many as 20 people could be unaccounted for, including potential bridge workers and those in the vehicles that fell into the river.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The Dali's owner, Grace Ocean Private Ltd., confirmed the collision but offered no explanation for how it occurred.

Maersk, a shipping giant whose cargo was being transported on the vessel, expressed horror at the incident and offered condolences to those affected.

The Baltimore bridge collapse has had a crippling impact on the city's transportation network. I-695, a major highway connecting Baltimore to points north and south, 

remains closed indefinitely as authorities assess the damage and begin the monumental task of recovery.

The full human cost of this tragedy is yet to be determined. In the coming days, the focus will be on rescue efforts, identifying victims, and supporting the families of those affected. 

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge will leave a lasting scar on Baltimore, a city grappling with a disaster of historic proportions.