South Asia and Beyond

Baltimore Maritime Disaster: How Did This Catastrophe Happen?

 Baltimore Maritime Disaster: How Did This Catastrophe Happen?

Screen grab of the Dali ramming into the bridge. Source Baltimore Port Authority

The worst maritime disaster of 2024 and could four Indians be responsible?  That’s the million-dollar question as emergency crews, fire-fighters and diving teams struggle to contain the disaster caused by the Singapore-flagged container ship Dali ramming into the Francis Scott Key bridge sited over Maryland’s Patapasco River early this morning.  The entire bridge collapsed.

According to the data platform MarineTraffic, Dali was heading for the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo when it ran into the bridge.  In an official statement, the Singapore-based group, Synergy Marine Group, said the ship had collided with one of the pillars of the bridge. Reports indicated visibility was low and temperatures were minus 1 degree Celsius.  Other reports said there were two pilots on board to guide the vessel when it is passing through restricted waters.  One presumes tugs were also present.  There are no reports of any injuries to the crew so far.

The Dali is owned by the Grace Ocean Private Limited. It is a 1,000-feet-long container vessel. According to local reports, the ship may have suffered from a loss of power before it struck the bridge. “In several angles of CCTV footage from this morning’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland; the Singaporean-Flagged Cargo Ship, M/V Dali which has been identified as the ship which impacted the bridge, can be seen suffering a total loss of power at least twice before the crash,” tweeted OSINT on X.

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The four Indians present on the ship are believed to be the captain, chief engineer and first engineer. It’s not clear if the CEO of Synergy Marine, also an Indian, was present.  But under maritime law, the ship’s captain is as responsible as the pilots on board.

Speaking to CNN, director of communications of the Baltimore City Fire Department, Kevin Cartwright, described the collapse of the 1.6-mile-long bridge as a “mass casualty event.” He stated that the authorities are looking for at least 20 people. So far, the incident is being described as an “accident” by Baltimore police authorities, stating that there was no indication that the ship rammed into the bridge intentionally.

The Maryland government has declared a state of emergency with Governor Wes Moore issuing a statement.  “We are working with an interagency team to quickly deploy federal resources from the Biden administration,” Moore said.

Ashwin Ahmad

Traveller, bibliophile and wordsmith with a yen for international relations. A journalist and budding author of short fiction, life is a daily struggle to uncover the latest breaking story while attempting to be Hemingway in the self-same time. Focussed especially on Europe and West Asia, discussing Brexit, the Iran crisis and all matters related is a passion that endures to this day. Believes firmly that life without the written word is a life best not lived. That’s me, Ashwin Ahmad.