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Apr 6, 2012 11:12 AM by AP

Coast Guard: Towboat sinks near New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Coast Guard says a towing vessel sank early Friday on the lower Mississippi River near New Orleans.

Petty Officer Bill Colclough said the three crew members of the Altro Donna were able to get off the vessel and escaped injury. He says the vessel was pushing three empty barges normally used to carry fuel or other hazardous materials. The barges did not sink.

However, Colclough said there is a tank on board the vessel with 11,500 gallons of diesel fuel - and there have been some signs of pollution in the area. A cleanup team has been dispatched to the site.

The river remains fully open, but Colclough said a safety zone has been established around the sunken vessel.

The cause of the sinking is under investigation.

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