The Liberian-flagged freighter “En May” Sunday crashed onto one of the pillars of the Zárate-Brazo Largo bridge linking the Argentine provinces of Buenos Aires and Entre Ríos, which affected barge traffic along the Paraná River waterway, it was reported. Two tugboats were deployed to free up traffic, it was also explained.
Navigation is interrupted until the safety conditions allow the ship to be taken to a safe anchorage. From that moment on, navigation will be reestablished, PNA's Daniel Sittner was quoted by Télam as saying.
Filmado desde el barco. Así se tragó el puente Zárate Brazo Largo por un problema con el timón. pic.twitter.com/jpHf8JrnpQ— Hechos y Derecho (@Hechosanderecho) January 30, 2024
A rudder malfunction prevented the helmsman from dodging the large, visible structure, it was explained. The unit was sailing upriver with no cargo and a small crew. Some damage to the hull on the starboard side was reported but it was superficial, with no danger of sinking.
According to a statement from Argentina's Coast Guard (PNA), it is a vessel of 228 meters in length, 36.5 in beam, which was coming from Singapore bound for San Lorenzo in the province of Santa Fe.
A pilot reported that, at the time when the ship was sailing upstream, it suffered problems in the rudder, for reasons that are still unknown, and lost control, colliding with the right bank of the complex, the document went on.
Responding PNA officers confirmed no crewmember was injured and no pollutant spills were detected.
Train services across the bridge were halted altogether but land traffic remained active although the maximum speed was lowered to 60 km/h as a precaution. On the other hand, navigation was interrupted at kilometer 171 of the Paraná de las Palmas River. The bridge is not affected because the pillars are of such magnitude that it is impossible to damage it, the City Council at the nearby city of Zárate noted.
A cargo vessel flying the Maltese flag bound for San Nicolás in the province of Buenos Aires hit the same bridge 26 years ago. On that occasion, the bridge shook and a catastrophe was feared, according to witnesses.
The En May set sail in October 2023 from Vietnam, then passed through Singapore and was in the Brazilian port of Santos before starting its voyage to Argentina.
The Zárate-Brazo Largo Bridge was inaugurated in 1977. It is nearly 5 kilometers long.