Passengers Evacuate Damaged Saint Laurent in Baskets
PHOTO: The evacuation process was underway on June 19. (Via Twitter)
UPDATE June 21: The Saint Laurent was refloated and exited the Eisenhower Lock chamber in Massena, N.Y., on Saturday afternoon, opening up the Saint Lawrence Seaway to marine traffic again. During the 42 hours it was stuck, about 15 vessels were delayed, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. reported. No pollution was detected. The U.S. Coast Guard had said the vessel could sail under its own power and was scheduled to sail to Quebec City, Canada, on Sunday.
Passengers and their baggage were being evacuated in baskets attached to cranes Friday afternoon from the damaged Saint Laurent cruise ship, which struck a wall in a lock on the Saint Lawrence Seaway in New York.
The passengers will be bused to Montreal, according to an update from the U.S. Coast Guard District 9 unit in Cleveland. Personnel from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. were in the baskets to help passengers through the slow and harrowing process. The Coast Guard said the evacuation might take up to six hours.
U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers were on the vessel to clear passengers before they disembarked.
Some confusion remained on how many people were injured in the accident, which occurred at about 9:15 p.m. June 18. The Coast Guard said 30 people were removed from the ship due to injuries, and 28 returned the next morning. However, the ship’s management company, FleetPro, said 19 guests and three crew members suffered minor injuries.
The Coast Guard said an initial damage assessment “indicated that 10 feet of the bow was pushed inward during the impact, causing water intrusion in the bow area.” However, the lock doors were closed and drained until the ship stopped taking on water, a measure that was working. There were no signs of pollution.
The lock closure meant traffic was suspended until the Saint Laurent is moved. At least nine vessels were delayed.
The ship will remain in the lock with both doors closed until it is safely refloated and can be moved to different location.
The Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y., is one of two U.S. locks on the 10-mile-long Wiley-Dondero Canal, which provides access to Lake St. Lawrence and is operated by the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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