Baltimore archbishop calls for prayers after catastrophic bridge collapse

Baltimore bridge In an aerial view, cargo ship Dali is seen after running into and collapsing the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024, in Baltimore. | Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori on Tuesday called for prayers after a container strip struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge in that city, leading to a catastrophic collapse early Tuesday morning. 

The 984-foot cargo ship struck one of the bridge’s support columns just before 1:30 a.m. Footage on social media showed the 1.6-mile-long, multilane bridge quickly collapsing after being struck. 

In a statement posted to X hours later, Lori said he was “saddened, as you are, to learn of the tragic incident overnight that led to the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Baltimore harbor.”

“Pray with me for all involved, especially the victims traveling over the span at the time of impact, the construction crews on site, and all of the first responders acting with urgency to rescue survivors,” Lori wrote. 

“Let us join in prayer asking the Lord to grant consolation and strength as we cope with this terrible tragedy,” the archbishop said. 

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, likewise issued a call for prayers on Tuesday morning. The Arlington Diocese is located about 40 miles from the Key Bridge.

“At this time of uncertainty, in which rescuers are heroically working to find survivors of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, I call on all people of goodwill to pray that additional survivors will be recovered and for first responders, the victims, and their families,” Burbidge wrote on X. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, at least six individuals who were reportedly on the bridge at the time of the collapse were unaccounted for.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Tuesday said a mayday call from the ship prior to the accident allowed authorities to close the bridge just before the collapse, stopping traffic from crossing as the bridge fell apart.

“'I’m thankful for the folks, once the warning came up and once notification came up that there was a mayday, who literally by being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge — these people are heroes,” he told media. “They saved lives last night.”

President Joe Biden, meanwhile, said that he had “directed my administration to ensure every federal resource is available to assist search and rescue efforts and response to this terrible incident.”

Approximately 35,000 people traveled the Francis Scott Key Bridge every day. The Port of Baltimore ranks among the 10 biggest U.S. ports for international cargo.

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