Bridge collapses at Biloxi after being struck by tug, barges

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(BILOXI, Miss.) — The Coast Guard continues to respond to the collapse of the Popps Ferry Bridge in Back Bay in Biloxi, Miss., after the towing vessel Cheryl Stegbauer, pushing eight barges, reportedly allided with the bridge earlier this morning.

The tow was two-barges-wide-by-four-barges-long and was carrying loaded rock. The first two barges were damaged. One barge has sunk and the other is listing due to being covered by a portion of the collapsed bridge. The tanks on the listing barge have been inspected for leaks and it is not taking on water.

Currently there is a 500-yard safety zone on both sides of the bridge.

While the investigation is still ongoing, initial reports show that the master of the towing vessel was properly licensed.

Coast Guard Sector Mobile received a call from the Department of Marine Resources for the state of Mississippi at approximately 7:40 a.m., reporting that the bridge had collapsed onto the barges of the towing vessel.

Responding are:

25-foot smallboat and crew from Station Gulfport, Miss.

HH65-C rescue helicopter and crew from Air Station New Orleans
HC-144A Ocean Sentry medium-range surveillance plane from the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala.

There have been no reports of injuries or pollution.

Coast Guard investigators and pollution investigators are on the scene of the collapse.

By Professional Mariner Staff