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Coal-Filled Barges Break Loose On River; 2 Sink

Jason Pratt
The Homestead Grays Bridge over the Monongahela River.

At least two coal-filled barges have sunk and about a dozen others have been corralled after they broke loose on a river in western Pennsylvania, colliding with bridges as they floated freely downstream.

*UPDATED Friday, May 25, 2018 at 1:15 p.m.

The runaway barges were spotted Thursday on the Monongahela River outside Pittsburgh. Traffic was shut down for hours on two bridges spanning the river after the barges hit one of them and started drifting toward the other. 

After a safety inspection on Thursday evening, both bridges were reopened to traffic. 
A railroad bridge was also struck. 

Tugboats and other vessels were called in to secure the barges, and which have all been secured, according to Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown. 

The state Department of Environmental Protection says any coal that went into the river is unlikely to cause a threat downstream.

*This post was updated to include additional safety information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Photo Credit: Jason Pratt/Flickr)