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St. Lawrence Seaway Shut by Collision

November 30, 1985|Associated Press

VALLEYFIELD, Quebec — A freighter slammed into a drawbridge on the St. Lawrence Seaway on Friday, blocking the waterway only three weeks after a 24-day closure stopped ships at the height of the shipping season. Two people were injured in the latest incident.

Gerald Laniel, vice president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority, said an Indian freighter, the Jalagodavari, was heading downstream when it lost control and hit the St. Louis drawbridge about 25 miles west of Montreal.

"The bridge was up, but the ship was not aligned with the entrance," Dubuc said.

A 60-foot section of the bridge fell into the Beauharnois Canal, which the bridge spans, Seaway spokesman Richard Juteau said.

Juteau said the canal would be closed for at least 24 hours while engineers check damage done to the bridge. He said that, if the drawbridge was not weakened, ships could sail around the area where the bridge section had dropped into the water.

Blocker Earlier

Juteau said the accident took place at 10:45 a.m. EST. Six ships were waiting in the canal by Friday afternoon, he said. He predicted that the number would grow quickly unless the canal is reopened soon. Ships are hurrying to leave the seaway before it becomes icebound and closes for the winter season at the end of December.

The seaway had been blocked from Oct. 14 until Nov. 7 when a wall collapsed in the Welland Canal, west of Niagara Falls. Last year, a bridge about five miles from the site of Friday's accident failed. It clogged sea traffic for 18 days.

Three trucks and a car plunged into the water after the accident, but no one was seriously injured, according to Cpl. Gerald Dubuc of Quebec's provincial police. He said two people in one of the vehicles were pulled from the water by the ship's crew and taken to a hospital, where they were listed in good condition. Dubuc said he thought the other drivers had scrambled to safety.

Juteau confirmed that two people were rescued, but he said, "We don't know if there were any more."

Juteau said part of the canal affected Friday is used for navigation and part supplies water to a power dam. He said the bridge section fell over the area used by the dam, and ships could navigate around it.

The Indian freighter, on its way to New York from the Great Lakes, was carrying general cargo and containers.

Laniel said part of the bridge's superstructure was broken and it would probably be out of commission for some time. Since the lift bridge was struck at the open position, it would probably not affect navigation for long, he said.

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