Bridge in eastern US city of Baltimore collapses after ship collision

A major portion of a bridge in Baltimore, the largest city in the eastern US state of Maryland, has collapsed after a ship struck one of its columns.

ABC News and other media outlets report that the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River collapsed at around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

CNN quotes the local fire department as saying workers are trying to rescue at least 20 people who are believed to have fallen into the river, and that multiple vehicles are in the water as well.

Reuters news agency and the vessel tracking website MarineTraffic say the ship is the Singapore-flagged freighter Dali, which left the port of Baltimore about half an hour before the collision, and was heading to Sri Lanka's largest city Colombo.

Local media say the bridge, familiarly known as the Key Bridge, opened to traffic in 1977 and is about three kilometers long.

It is heavily used by people traveling between Maryland and major cities such as Washington and New York.