Baltimore turns to prayer after Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse

The wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Cargo Ship Dali are seen in this drone photo on March 26, 2024.(Photo: NTSBGov)

(CP) Political and religious leaders in Baltimore, as well as Maryland and federal officials, have called for prayers and attended prayer vigils after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse Tuesday leaving six presumed dead.

The Key Bridge, the part of the I-695 beltway that spans over the Patapsco River, collapsed early Tuesday morning after a cargo ship leaving the Port of Baltimore crashed into the bridge, leading to its quick collapse.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, a Democrat, described the bridge collapse as an "unthinkable tragedy" as he appeared alongside Wallace at the news conference.

"We have to first and foremost, pray for all of those who are impacted, those families," he proclaimed.

Scott also urged people to "pray for our first responders and thank them, all of them working together: city, state, local to make sure that we are working through this tragedy."

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, a Democrat, offered a similar sentiment as he spoke at the news conference.

"I would just echo the mayor in lifting up prayers for those who are impacted but also ask that our residents ... pray for our first responders."

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, a Democrat, issued a statement Tuesday after declaring a state of emergency. Moore expressed gratitude for first responders, stating, "We are thankful for the brave men and women who are carrying out efforts to rescue those involved and pray for everyone's safety."

President Joe Biden also weighed in on the bridge collapse in remarks at the White House Tuesday.

He assured, "Our prayers are with everyone involved in this terrible accident and all the families, especially those waiting for the news of their loved one right now."

Archbishop William Lori, the leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, released a statement reacting to the bridge collapse Tuesday.

"I am 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," he said.

Lori urged the faithful to "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."

"Let us join in prayer in asking the Lord to grant consolation and strength as we cope with this terrible tragedy," Lori added.

Multiple churches held special services to pray for those who may have lost their lives and/or sustained injuries due to the bridge collapse.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore shared a post from its publication, The Catholic Review, on Facebook Tuesday, noting that "more than 200 people" attended a "special 5:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen" in the Homeland neighborhood of Baltimore.

Scott took to Facebook Tuesday to invite people to join him and "faith Leaders from across the city in a moment of unity and solace in response" to the bridge collapse by attending a prayer vigil at Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Turner Station in nearby Dundalk, Maryland.

Scott and Olszewski were listed as guests at the prayer vigil, which took place between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

In addition to raising concerns about potential lives lost, the bridge collapse has other consequences.

As Biden indicated when describing the bridge as "one of the most important elements for the economy in the Northeast and the quality of life" that is "critical" for travel in the northeastern U.S., "Over 30,000 vehicles cross the Francis Scott Key Bridge on a daily basis."

The collapse of the bridge has led to traffic being rerouted.

Additionally, shipping traffic in the Port of Baltimore has been suspended, although it is still open for truck transactions. Biden identified the Port of Baltimore as "the top port in America for both imports and exports of automobiles and light trucks" that employs 15,000 people.

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