FBI says "no specific or credible information" tying terrorism to Baltimore bridge collapse

Washington — Federal authorities said Tuesday that they don’t believe the crash of a container ship that caused Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge to collapse was an intentional act, adding that there is no evidence the incident was connected to terrorism.

Federal and state officials, including from the National Transportation Safety Board, are continuing their investigations, and search and rescue efforts are underway since the collapse sent vehicles and people into the water. 

“There is no specific or credible information to suggest there are ties to terrorism in this incident,” said William J. DelBagno, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office, during a press conference Tuesday morning. 

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday after a large container ship hit a supporting column. 

The bridge spans 1.6 miles across the Patapsco River in the Port of Baltimore and was built in the 1970s. The bridge gets its name from Francis Scott Key, the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

President Biden convened senior members of his team for a briefing on the response to the collapse of the bridge, and directed them to make sure all federal resources are available, the White House said. The president will continue to be updated throughout the day, and updated the nation from remarks at the White House shortly before 1 p.m.

“I told them we’re going to send all the federal resources they need as we respond to this emergency. I mean all the federal resources,” the president said from the White House. “And we’re going to rebuild that port together. Everything so far indicates that this was a terrible accident.” 

“To the people of Baltimore, I want to say, we’re with you,” the president continued. “We’re going to stay with you as long as it takes.”

Tuesday’s collapse came after the Singapore-flagged cargo vessel “lost propulsion” and hit a supporting tower of the bridge, according to an unclassified Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency memo reviewed by CBS News and confirmed by a law enforcement official. 

Officials said in a news conference that the crew issued a mayday before the collision, which allowed officials to begin stopping traffic onto the bridge. Officials did not clarify how many vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse, but Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the decision to stop traffic “saved lives last night.” 

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday March 26, 2024, after a support column was struck by a vessel.
Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday March 26, 2024, after a support column was struck by a vessel.

Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a social media post Tuesday morning that he spoke with Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, offering the Transportation Department’s support after the bridge collapse. The Department of Transportation is expected to release emergency response funds. 

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. Coast Guard was on the scene, coordinating with state and local partners on search and rescue operations. Mayorkas said there was “no indication” that the incident was intentional. He noted that the department was assessing the impact to the Port of Baltimore.

Moore said the “preliminary investigation points to an accident,” although officials are continuing to investigate the incident. Moore declared a state of emergency earlier on Tuesday, saying he was working with the Biden administration to deploy federal resources 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland in a statement called the bridge collapse “a terrible tragedy” for the city and state. At a press conference, Van Hollen said he had spoken with Buttigieg, and pledged that the federal government was partnering with local authorities. 

“The federal government is your partner in this effort,” he said. “We’re with you, we love you, we will get through this together.”

Nicole Sganga contributed reporting.

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