Barges sucked into levee breach on Mississippi River

(MILLER CITY, Ill.) — Six connected barges came loose from their towboat and were sucked through the breach in the Len Small levee on the Mississippi River, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

The current pushed the barges out over flooded farmland Wednesday near Miller City, said Alexander County engineer Jeff Denny, where they came to rest apparently after hitting an irrigation system.

Two similar accidents had been narrowly avoided in the past month, Denny said, because those towboats had engines strong enough to escape the water flowing into the ¾-mile-wide hole in the levee.

There were no injuries or damage to barges, which were all empty, said Kent Furlong, owner of Hines Furlong Line, the barge company. However, the barges appear to have knocked down power lines in their path across the flooded fields, Denny said.

County leaders said the incident is a reminder of the need to fix the levee, which has failed repeatedly over the past decade.

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By Professional Mariner Staff