Three critically hurt in gas barge explosions near Mobile, Alabama

MOBILE, Ala., April 25 Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:42am EDT

MOBILE, Ala., April 25 (Reuters) - Fires sparked by explosions engulfed two gasoline barges in the Mobile River, injuring three workers who remained in critical condition on Thursday, authorities said.

The blasts on Wednesday night aboard the fuel barges off the shore of Mobile, Alabama, forced officials to evacuate nearby shipyards and one cruise vessel, said Mobile Fire Chief Steve Dean.

For safety reasons, firefighters were keeping a distance from the barges, which were carrying raw gasoline and had already been the source of multiple explosions, Dean said.

The barge explosions forced the crew of Carnival Corp's cruise vessel Triumph to evacuate.

Three men working on the barges remained in critical condition with severe burns on Thursday, two in a burn unit, and the other in a surgical trauma unit, said Danny Whatley, nursing administrator for spokesman for Mobile's University of South Alabama Medical Center.

He declined to identify them, other than to say one was from Alabama and the others were from other U.S. states.

Mobile Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Steve Huffman said he didn't know who owned the barges or what their destination was.

The cause of the explosions was unknown and would not be determined until after firefighters reached the vessels, he said.

In February, an engine fire left Carnival Corp's Triumph and 4,000 passengers adrift in the Gulf of Mexico until they were towed back to land.

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