Three people were hurt in multiple explosions aboard two fuel barges in the Mobile River in Alabama on Wednesday night, according to the Mobile Fire Department.
The department said the three victims were taken to a hospital. The Coast Guard said they had been burned, and their conditions were unknown.
The fire department said the barges experienced four blasts, with the first reported about 9 p.m. The incident occurred in the vicinity of the Carnival Triumph, the cruise ship that lost power in the Gulf of Mexico and later broke loose of its moorings at a Mobile shipyard.
Some areas along the river were evacuated. The fire department said a shipmaker on the east bank, Austal, had been partially evacuated as a fire burned nearby.
“Planning to let it burn,” the fire department tweeted. “Still too unstable.”
In a statement, the U.S. Coast Guard said a one-nautical-mile safety zone had been established around the barge, referring to it in the singular. “The barge was an empty compressed natural gas barge that was at the dock for cleaning,” the Coast Guard said.
The agency was investigating the incident.
Here are a collection of tweets from the fire department, local media and onlookers. Not all details in the tweets could be confirmed.
Units on scene on east side of Mobile River where a fuel barge has exploded and is on fire. — Mobile Fire-Rescue(@MobileFRD) April 25, 2013
Explosion felt in Baldwin County, reports coming in from Bay Minette residents — Chasity Byrd (@ChasityByrd) April 25, 2013
BREAKING: Barge explosion felt as far away as Daphne & Spanish Fort on the Eastern Shore in Baldwin County. — Derek Beasley (@DerekBeasleyWX) April 25, 2013
UPDATE: two barges with natural gas exploded. Three injured and transported to hospital. They were reportedly empty. — Mobile Fire-Rescue(@MobileFRD) April 25, 2013
News crews told to evacuate the area along the Mobile River — Bob Grip (@Bob_Grip) April 25, 2013
Third explosion has just occurred. — Mobile Fire-Rescue(@MobileFRD) April 25, 2013
A third large explosion occurred. On the opposite site of the river, the Carnival Triumph is being evacuated. — Lagniappe (@LagniappeMobile) April 25, 2013
BAE is sheltering in place. Part of Austal has been evacuated. A fourth explosion has occurred. Planning to let it burn. Still too unstable. — Mobile Fire-Rescue(@MobileFRD) April 25, 2013
4th explosion. Felt like a freaking earthquake . — Kristyn Hardy (@_SpecialKLH) April 25, 2013
Just left the homeless park downtown Mobile. About 100 people down there along with MPD and MFD watching the barge burn across the river. — Christopher Andrews (@Andrews3324) April 25, 2013
What we’re smelling downtown #MobileAL is a mix of all kinds of chemicals. Barge is for #Austal fueling. #bargeexplosion #mobileexplosion — South Alabama (@South_Alabama) April 25, 2013
Mobile Mayor Sam Jones says the barges contained untreated gasoline. — George Talbot (@georgetalbot) April 25, 2013
Steve Huffman says barge was being prepped for refuel. No new info in injuries. — George Talbot (@georgetalbot) April 25, 2013
Thankfully we are hearing the fuel barge was nearly empty. The explosions could have been even bigger.
— Letisha Bush (@LetishaBush) April 25, 2013
[Updated, 9:23 p.m. April 24: This post has been updated to include the Coast Guard statement.]