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Towboat Accidents On Swollen Mississippi River Set Barges Free

Two separate accidents on the fast-flowing, swollen Mississippi River caused barges to break loose.

The Coast Guard says the first occurred Monday night along the eastern boarder of Arkansas when a towboat pushing barges struck a pier of the Helena Highway Bridge, sending four barges traveling free.

They were secured at about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday. Officials say two barges containing about 2.4 million gallons of denatured alcohol were damaged and were taking on water.

Meanwhile a second accident occurred a little further to the south Tuesday when a towboat pushing 30 barges hit the old U.S. 80 bridge.

All of the barges broke loose and there are reports at least two may have sunk in the Mississippi.

The flooded river is to crest today at Arkansas City, in the southeast part of the state. Water levels will then begin going down on the river and its ttributaries like the Arkansas River.

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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