The tense moments following the devastating collapse of Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge were vividly captured in dispatch audio from emergency responders. The catastrophe unfolded early Tuesday when a cargo ship, the Dali, collided with the bridge, leading to its complete destruction.

Prior to the collision, the operators of the Dali had issued a distress call, indicating that the vessel had lost power. Despite this warning, the ship continued its course towards the bridge at an alarming speed, according to Maryland Governor Wes Moore. The 985-foot-long ship struck one of the supports of the 1.6-mile-long bridge, causing it to crumble and plunge into the water within seconds.

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In the dispatch audio, emergency responders expressed concern for construction workers who had been working on the bridge at the time of the collapse. There were reports of workers being thrown into the water, prompting a swift response from dive teams. The collapse also resulted in vehicles being submerged in the water, leading dispatchers to call it a "mass casualty" incident.

Efforts to rescue those affected by the collapse were underway, with notifications made to local hospitals in the area. While two individuals were successfully rescued, tragically, six construction workers repairing potholes on the bridge remained missing and were presumed dead. Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, confirmed that the workers were in the middle of the span when the bridge gave way.

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The Dali, owned by Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd., was reported to have been traveling at a speed of 8 knots (approximately 9 mph) at the time of the collision. Fortunately, all crew members, including the two pilots, were safely accounted for, and there were no reported injuries on board the vessel.

An inspection of the Dali in June at a port in Chile had identified a problem with the ship's propulsion and auxiliary machinery, although specifics were not elaborated upon. However, a subsequent inspection conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard in New York in September did not identify any deficiencies.

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Experts noted that while the 47-year-old bridge had been rated in fair condition by federal inspectors, it lacked pier protection necessary to withstand the impact of the collision. The tragic incident has prompted renewed scrutiny of infrastructure safety measures and calls for enhanced protections to prevent similar disasters in the future.