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Tourist boat hits bridge in Seine; 28 injured

August 11, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ A double-decker sightseeing boat rammed into a bridge on the Seine River just across from the Louvre today, injuring 28 people.

About 70 tourists were aboard the gaily painted Parisis when it struck an arch of the Pont Royal bridge, not far from the Louvre, shortly before noon.

An electronic navigating error drove the boat into the bridge before the captain had time to correct the course, said Eric Levavasseur, director of Vedettes du Pont Neuf, the company that owns the boat.

Most of the 28 people injured appeared to have suffered bruises, but were not seriously hurt. One man, however, was carried out on a long orange body splint, and a woman in her 60s was fitted with a neck brace.

Sixteen people were sent to nearby hospitals, police said. Nobody fell into the water.

``Obviously people were panicked by the shock,″ said Jean-Luc Chivot, squadron chief of the river fire brigade. ``This was a pleasant tourist cruise, and you don’t exactly expect something like this.″

Audrey Haughton of Oxfordshire, England, said she briefly lost consciousness when she hit her head on a railing.

``I was facing the other way,″ she said, ``and then, nothing, black.″

Vedettes du Pont Neuf is one of about a half-dozen companies that run tourist boats along the river.

The popular sightseeing boats, called bateaux mouches, ply the Seine day and night, passing by the Eiffel Tower, the Musee D’Orsay, the Ile St. Louis and other popular sights. The Parisis had a capacity for 100 people.

After the accident, the Parisis returned to its dock near the Pont Neuf bridge, near Notre Dame, Levavasseur said.

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