Tugboat sinking forces 10-mile closure of Miss. River passes 

The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday afternoon indefinitely closed a 10-mile stretch of the Mississippi River above Head of Passes after a 48-foot tugboat sank near Venice.

Two crew members from the sunken tug fell into the river, but were later rescued by a good Samaritan, according to a Coast Guard news release.

The vessel, however, remains underwater. The tugboat, C-Pec, reportedly sank around noon Saturday about 8 miles north of the mouth of the Mississippi River, also known as Head of Passes.

“The Coast Guard is actively working with all available resources and intends on re-opening the lower Mississippi River once it is determined to be safe for the navigation of all vessel traffic,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Frechette, situation watchstander at Sector New Orleans.

The Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Plaquemines Parish Port Authority were all contributing to boat recovery efforts, the release says.

The tugboat had four external 500-gallon tanks that broke free when it sank, creating a minor oil sheen on the river’s surface, which later dissipated due to river currents, the release says.

All four tanks eventually were recovered by Coast Guard crews.

The Mississippi River’s waterways were fully closed at 1 p.m. between mile markers zero and 10 above Head of Passes.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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