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Runaway Ship Rams Two Others on Mississippi River, Causing Oil Spill

A 751-foot ship broke loose from its moorings Monday in Louisiana, colliding with at least two other ships as it drifted down the Mississippi River and causing a significant oil spill, the Coast Guard said. The river was closed for nine miles as cities and towns in the New Orleans area were warned to protect their water supplies.

The Privocean, a Malta-flagged bulk carrier, broke loose about 4 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) near Convent, about 45 miles west of New Orleans, and soon collided with the Texas, a 98-foot towing vessel that was moored, the Coast Guard said. No injuries were reported.

The Privocean then continued drifting downriver and collided with the Bravo, an 816-foot tank ship, which was off loading crude oil, the agency said. Preliminary readings indicated that about 420 gallons of oil were discharged into the Mississippi, which feeds many municipal water systems in the region.

Late Monday, all three ships were secure as oil spill cleanup efforts continued, but the river was closed from mile marker 163 to mile marker 154, the Coast Guard said.

The cause of the incident has not yet been determined.

IN-DEPTH

— M. Alex Johnson