Major US bridge collapses caused by ships and barges

(AP) – A container ship Francis Scott Key hit the bridge early Tuesday in Baltimore, causing it to fall into the river below. Search and rescue teams immediately began efforts to locate survivors who may have drowned in the collapse, with an official indicating that “over seven” people are unaccounted for.

The incident marks the latest in a series of similar tragic bridge collapses, some of which have occurred in the United States in recent decades.

From 1960 to 2015, ship or barge collisions caused 35 major bridge collapses worldwide, killing a total of 342 people. According to a 2018 report From the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure. 18 of these collapses occurred in the United States.

Below is a list of notable United States disasters involving ship or barge bridges:

Pope’s Ferry Bridge

March 20, 2009: A ship rammed eight barges on the Popps Ferry Bridge in Biloxi, Mississippi, causing a 150-foot section of the bridge to collapse into the bay.

Queen Isabella Causeway: 8 dead

September 15, 2001: A tugboat and barge hit the Queen Isabella Causeway in Port Isabel, Texas, causing a mid-section of the bridge to fall 80 feet into the bay below. Eight people died after the motorcyclist went into a ditch.

A portion of the Queen Isabella Causeway is shown missing after storms prevented crews from their search and rescue efforts Saturday, September 15, 2001 in Port Isabella, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Eads Bridge: 50 injured

April 14, 1998: The Ann Hawley tow, traveling through St. Louis Harbor, struck the center of the Eads Bridge. Eight barges were wrecked. Three of them hit a permanent gambling ship under the bridge. Fifty people were slightly injured.

Big Bayou Canoe: 47 dead

September 22, 1993: Barges pushed by a towboat in thick fog strike and dislodge the Big Bayou Canoe Railroad Bridge near Mobile, Alabama. Minutes later, an Amtrak train carrying 220 passengers reached the displaced bridge and derailed, killing 47 and injuring 103.

Seaber Bridge: 1 dead

May 28, 1993: The towboat Chris, struck the empty hopper barge DM3021 and struck a support tear on the Judge William Sieber Bridge in New Orleans. The two-span and two-column bend collapsed on the barge. Two cars carrying three people fell into the canal along with the deck of the four-lane bridge. One person was killed and two others were seriously injured.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge: 35 dead

May 9, 1980: The 609-foot freighter Summit Venture was navigating through the narrow, winding shipping channel of Tampa Bay, Florida when a sudden, blinding storm knocked out the ship’s radar.

Sunshine Skyway
A car is stopped at the end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay, Florida, after the freighter Summit Venture struck the bridge during a thunderstorm, tearing off a large section of the span, 9 May 1980. (AP Photo/Jackie Green, File)

During the morning rush hour, the ship tore off a support of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, shedding a 1,400-foot section of concrete roadway. Seven vehicles, including a bus, plunged into 150 feet of water. Thirty-five people died.

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