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Alaska ferry strikes reef, takes on water

More than 100 passengers and crew members were evacuated from a 235-foot ferry in Alaska on Monday after the vessel struck a reef and began taking on water.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 235-foot ferry with more than 100 people aboard struck a reef Monday and began taking on water, forcing the passengers and crew to abandon ship.

All 86 passengers and 23 crew members were evacuated from the vessel and put into life rafts and aboard passing ships, said Alaska Marine Highway System spokeswoman Nona Wilson. No injuries were reported.

The LeConte was stuck on a reef in Peril Strait about 30 miles north of Sitka, Wilson said.

“They are hard aground,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Raymer. “They’re stuck good.”

The ship was taking on water, but the ebbing tide meant it was in no immediate danger of sinking, Wilson said.

The Coast Guard sent three helicopters and a cutter to perform emergency repairs. Divers were sent to examine the damage, and a salvage barge was to help the vessel off the reef.

“The problem should be handled by the time the tide comes back up,” Wilson said.

The LeConte, a 31-year-old ferry run by the state, serves southeastern Alaska communities. It can hold 250 passengers and 34 vehicles.