Barges hits Mardi Gras facility, causing 'heavy damage'

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(NEW ORLEANS) — Mardi Gras World, a New Orleans tourist attraction, was struck Monday evening by several barges that caused significant damage, The Times-Picayune reported.

About 6:45 p.m., "a tug lost steering and ran several barges into the Mardi Gras World facility," said Tim McConnell, superintendent of the New Orleans Fire Department. "Mardi Gras World sustained some pretty heavy damage."

No one was inside the building at the time and no injuries were reported. About 200 feet of the wharf was affected, McConnell said.

The incident did not affect incoming Mayor LaToya Cantrell's inaugural ball, which was being held nearby, McConnell said.

"(The barges) just slammed right into it," said Whitney Sterk, a volunteer who was working at the inaugural event. She said the midsection of the downriver tow hit the wharf. 

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Editor's note: The U.S. Coast Guard has identified the towboat in the incident as Steve Richoux.

By Professional Mariner Staff