26 barges break loose on Ohio River in Pittsburgh; some go over dam

April 13 (UPI) -- Twenty-three loaded and three empty barges broke loose from their moorings along the Ohio River at Pittsburgh and floated uncontrolled until they were eventually recovered, authorities said.

There were no reports of injuries but a marina sustained extensive damage in the incident, Pittsburgh Public Safety said in a statement.

The barges broke loose around 11:25 p.m. EDT Friday. Eleven of them came to a stop while pinned against a river bank near Brunot Island and were recovered by a towboat.

Another nine barges were stopped at the Emsworth Dam, but five others continued downriver and went over the Dashields Dam, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh Commander Justin Jolley told the Post-Gazette.

One barge likely sank, and the Army Corps of Engineers will examine Emsworth Dam to determine if it suffered any damage, Jolley said.

He said high water levels caused by recent storms likely caused the barges to break loose.

The emergency prompted responses from Pittsburgh firefighters, emergency medical services and police.

Local officials temporarily closed McKees Rocks bridge after loose barges struck it, but the bridge didn't sustain damage, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

The barges are owned by the Campbell Transportation Co., which has a base on the Ohio River a short distance downstream of the McKees Rocks Bridge.

The accident came two weeks after the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed when it was struck by a container ship, killing six construction workers and shutting down shipping traffic at city's busy seaport.