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Cruise Ship Goes Aground on Columbia River

March 24, 2006

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ A cruise ship with more than 250 people on board ran aground Friday on the Columbia River east of here. Officials said no injuries were reported, the vessel wasn’t sinking and a tugboat would be used to refloat it.

The 360-foot Empress of the North ran aground between Portland and Washougal, Wash., Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Keith Alholm said from Seattle.

Once the vessel is refloated it will be towed to Washougal, where the passengers will be put ashore, Alholm said. It was not immediately clear how long that would take.

The vessel is carrying 227 passengers and 30 crewmembers, Alholm said. The cruise ship was leaking no fuel, he said.

Lt. Mike Schults, with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, said wind and choppy water may have sent the vessel off course.

Alholm said the cruise ship _ a modern version of an 1800s sternwheeler _ will be thoroughly checked by investigators for possible damage before it continues its trip.

The Empress of the North left Astoria, Ore., on Sunday for week-long cruise of the Columbia, said April Matson, spokeswoman for the American West Steamboat Company, the ship’s owner.

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