updated 4/28/2009 4:31:04 PM ET 2009-04-28T20:31:04

A massive water main break shut down the heart of downtown Baltimore on Tuesday, sending thousands of workers home or to other offices and at one point flooding the city with two feet of water.

Officials closed eight city office buildings, including City Hall, as well as the fire and police department headquarters. Many roads downtown were closed, snarling traffic during the morning rush hour.

No injuries have been reported.

Public Works spokesman Kurt Kocher said the floodwaters had receded. Television images showed water bubbling out of broken pavement at the site of the break. Commercial buildings were closed in the 32 square-block area, too.

"It is the center of our commercial sector so there's definitely an impact there," Downtown Partnership President Kirby Fowler said. "This is really the heaviest concentration of employees in Baltimore city."

The break was in a 20-inch line, but public works officials said crews also shut off a nearby 40-inch line while the damage was assessed. Water customers outside the area had low water pressure.

Mayor Sheila Dixon said the city hopes to have the problem fixed by Wednesday morning.

"This is going to be an all-day and night situation. This is a huge water main break and this is a huge area that's affected," she said.

Kocher said crews have been planning repairs to two large water mains in the area, but the break occurred before those repairs could start.

State officials closed the William Donald Schaefer Tower, which houses 14 state agencies, affecting more than 1,100 workers.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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