Gov. Wes Moore has declared a state of emergency after a ship struck the Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing it to collapse into the Patapsco River.

At least eight individuals were on the bridge at the time of the collapse, all members of a construction crew that was patching potholes. Two of those individuals were rescued, Moore said during a Tuesday morning press conference. One of those individuals was taken to a local hospital in serious condition, the other six remain unaccounted for.

The governor’s office is communicating with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, and the Baltimore Fire Department, Moore said in a statement.

“We are thankful for the brave men and women who are carrying out efforts to rescue those involved and pray for everyone’s safety,” Moore said.

During the Tuesday morning press conference he added that the ship’s crew had alerted authorities in time to prevent a greater tragedy. “I’m thankful for the folks who, once the notification came up, [were] able to stop cars from coming over the bridge,” he said. “They saved lives last night.”

The Key Bridge over the Patapsco River. (flowenol / Depositphotos.com)

The bridge, which makes up part of I-695, has all lanes closed in both directions, the Maryland Transportation Authority reported Tuesday morning. The transportation authority advised using I-95 or I-895 instead.

While rescuers still search for survivors of the Key Bridge collapse, businesses in Maryland are preparing for disruption, though it could take some time to determine the full extent.

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce is expecting long-term business changes due to the disaster, which in addition to closing Interstate 695, has cut off the Port of Baltimore from the Atlantic Ocean.

“While the focus remains on the human impacts, the Francis Scott Key Bridge is a critical transportation artery for our state. Its extended closure will inevitably disrupt commercial activities and supply chains,” the chamber said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Understanding the monumental task ahead to recover from this tragedy and restore this vital transportation link, we urge all residents and businesses to exercise patience and make the necessary long-term adjustments to their daily routines, travel and operations.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Secretary Buttigieg has pledged to quickly release emergency response funds. “The National Transportation Saety Board chair and her team will be conducting an investigation, and the Army Corps of Engineers Naval Assets for looking below the surface and clearing [debris] will also be part of the effort,” he said.

About 37,300 jobs in Maryland are generated by port activity, according to the Maryland Port Administration’s 2017 report on the port’s economic impact for cargo and cruise activity. About 102,000 other jobs are directly related to the port, though they are much less dependent on the port, the report said. These are jobs with Maryland companies that import and export their cargo through the Port of Baltimore.

“If the Port of Baltimore were not available to them, these firms could suffer an economic penalty over the longer term but woul likely survive by shipping through another port,” the report said.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott posted early Tuesday that he had been in touch with Gov. Wes Moore, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and was on the way to the scene.

Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld estimated that 35,000 people travel across the Key Bridge each day, with roughly 70,000 using the Harbor Tunnel and 140,000 using the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

“We’ll have to ensure we have [the resources] to deal with any incidents because that can cause backups very quickly,” he said. “We will put out a lot of communication about alternatives and are looking at transit alternatives as well.”

The bridge was built from 1972 to 1977 at a cost of $60.3 million, according to the transportation authority.

This story has been updated to include statements from Governor Wes Moore, Senator Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld.

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