Port worker says cargo ship had 'serious power outages' days before hitting Francis Scott Key Bridge

Those missing all are believed to have been working on the bridge when it collapsed, ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports

A port worker has said the cargo ship that rammed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore was experiencing technical issues for two days before the crash.

Julie Mitchell, Co-Administrator of Container Royal, which tracks the tonnage on container ships in Baltimore port, told ITV News the ship was "having serious power outages".

She said: "The reefer boxes that we have, one of which is the refrigerated boxes, were actually tripping the breakers or mechanics that were keeping the generators running on those while they were trying to fix the ship.

"They weren’t even holding that, they were tripping breakers on that, they had a severe electrical problem. "

ITV News is unable to independently verify this information, but the ship's operators reported losing power moments before the collision.

While it is unclear why the ship did not stop, video shows all the lights on the huge vessel turning black seconds before hitting the bridge.

It has also emerged the container ship dropped its anchor prior to impact as part of its emergency procedures after losing propulsion, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement Tuesday.

The head of a trade association for maritime pilots says the pilot tried to slow it down before the crash.

Clay Diamond, executive director of the American Pilots’ Association, said he has been in close contact with officials from the Association of Maryland Pilots who described to him what happened as the ship approached the bridge.

He said when the ship was a few minutes out, it lost all power, including to its engines.

The pilot immediately ordered the rudder hard to port to keep the ship from turning right and ordered the port anchor be dropped, which it was, Diamond said.

The pilot also contacted a dispatch office to get the bridge shut down.

Diamond said widely circulated images showing the ship’s lights turning off and on, were caused by the emergency generators turning he lights back on but not the ship’s propulsion.

Watch the moment the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapses

Six people, who were repairing potholes on the bridge at the time of the crash, remain missing and are now presumed dead by their employers, Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, said.

The bodies of the workers have not yet been recovered, but they are presumed to have died given the water’s depth and the amount of time that has passed since the crash, he said.

Two people were pulled from the water, with one person taken to hospital in a serious condition, James Wallace, Chief of Baltimore City Fire Department said during a press conference. They have now been discharged, the hospital has confirmed to ITV News.

A fellow construction company employee says he was told his missing co-workers were on a break and some were sitting in their trucks when a Baltimore bridge collapsed.

“I was praying to God that nothing had happened to them,” Campos said, speaking in Spanish.

"A month ago I was there, and I know what it feels like when the trailers pass. Imagine knowing that it is falling. It is so hard, one would not know what to do,” Campos said.

The view of the Francis Scott Key Bridge that was struck by a container ship . Credit: Maxaar Technologies via AP

In the moments before impact, at around 1.30am on Tuesday, the ship's crew sent out a mayday call moments before impact, allowing Maryland police to stop people driving across, the Maryland governor said.

"These people are heroes," Gov Wes Moore told reporters. "They saved lives last night."

“Never would you think that you would see, physically see, the Key Bridge tumble down like that. It looked like something out of an action movie,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, calling it "an unthinkable tragedy".

The DALI container ship crashed into the bridge at around 1.30am local time, and appears to have caught fire, according to a video posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Temperatures at the port were around -1C at the time of the collision.

The container ship was not being manned by its own crew at the time of the collision, but by local pilots who are typically brought in to maneuver boats from ports to open water.

ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks talks through how the collision unfolded from the scene of the collapse

Authorities, using sonar, drones and infrared technology have detected a number of vehicles submerged in the water, but they don't have "a count" of how many yet.

Multiple vehicles were on the bridge at the time, including one the size of a tractor-trailer.

Initial reports of the incident suggested the vessel began sinking following the impact, but it has since been clarified that it has not sunk.

It is too early to know the cause of Tuesday's accident, Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld at a news conference, as reported by CNN.

Police, as well as President Joe Biden have said there is so indication the incident was intentional or a terrorist attack.

The US leader said he hopes federal government will pay for the damage, and is planning to visit Baltimore "as quickly as I can," in a statement on Tuesday.

Two people have been rescued from the water, one of which is in a serious condition. At least seven others are still missing, Baltimore Fire Chief James Wallace said

All 22 members of the ship's crew, including two pilots, have been accounted for and there were no reports of injuries, according to the managing firm.

US Coastguard official Kimberly Reaves said it is currently unclear if there are any casualties.

Dive teams are currently in attendance joining the search for those in the water.

“Our focus right now is trying to rescue and recover these people,” Mr Cartwright said.

Authorities understand that the cargo ship that struck the Key Bridge is called the Dali. Credit: APTN

The Singapore-registered vessel which, was chartered by Danish shipping company Maers had been rerouted from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Mr Cartwright said it appears there are “some cargo or retainers hanging from the bridge,” creating unsafe and unstable conditions, and emergency responders are operating cautiously as a result.

In June inspectors found a problem with the ship's machinery but according to the shipping information system Equasis, a more recent examination the Dali, did not identify any deficiencies.

Officials are assessing the condition of the bridge following the collapse but in a previous inspections it was rated as being in fair condition.

The bridge did not appear to have pier protection to withstand the cargo ship crash, according to a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“If a bridge pier without adequate protection is hit by a ship of this size, there is very little that the bridge could do,” Professor Roberto Leon, of Virginia Tech, said he reviewed the video of the crash.

An estimated 11.5 million vehicles cross the bridge, which is named after Francis Scott Key, who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" every year - that's approximately 31,500 vehicles every day.

Mr Cartwright said: "This bridge has been in place for quite some time and has served many, many commuters in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

"So as the investigation ensues, there will be structural engineers involved to try and assess what the condition of the bridge is."

There remains disruption around the bridge and the surrounding areas as a result of the incident.

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