Miss. River partially reopened near where tug sank

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard on Tuesday partially reopened a section of the Mississippi River southeast of New Orleans where a tugboat sank over the weekend.

Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally said a mile-long stretch of the river, near the town of Venice, was reopened at 6:15 p.m. CDT Tuesday. He said a safety zone is in effect until further notice. The zone limits the area to one-way traffic. Lally said that means vessels are not allowed to pass each other within the zone and must coordinate with each other to see who goes through the area when.

The tug sank Saturday. The river was closed from Saturday afternoon until Sunday night as authorities searched for the tug and made sure it didn’t pose a navigation hazard.

Some vessels anchored and waited out the weekend closure. Others, including a cruise ship bound for New Orleans, were re-routed.

The sunken tug was located Monday. The Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local authorities and private companies were involved in the search, which included the use of sonar. As of late Tuesday, it still had not been salvaged, Lally said.

The Coast Guard said two people were rescued from the water after the sinking. The cause of the accident remains unclear.

The Coast Guard and Fab-Con Inc., a marine construction company working on the salvage effort, said late Tuesday that the operator of the tug and the designated “responsible party” in the accident was A & R Marine LLC of Belle Chasse, which has no listed phone number.

Fab-Con Inc. spokesman Shawn LeBeouf said other companies involved in the salvage effort were Couvillion Group of Belle Chasse, Blackwater Diving, and T. Baker Smith.

Couvillion operations manager Michael Roy said the tugboat would first be moved out of the navigation channel, then removed from the water. Shawn LeBoeuf, a spokesman for Fab-Con, said in an e-mail from the salvage site that the companies were making “great progress.”

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