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Coast Guard rescues passengers off riverboat stuck on Kentucky lake



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    TRIGG COUNTY, Kentucky (WSMV) — Passengers on board the “American Jazz” were stuck in a sandbar on Lake Barkley, Kentucky, since Wednesday. On Friday, the passengers were finally taken off the riverboat by the Coast Guard.

The American Cruise Lines’ ship was on its way to Nashville from Memphis when it got stuck on a sandbar.

A spokesperson for the American Cruise Line said the effort to take the riverboat off the sandbar is taking longer than expected.

Alexa Paolella, spokesperson for American Cruise Line told News4, “There remains no damage to the vessel, no pollution, and no other resulting areas of concern. American Cruise Lines has been operating in Lake Barkley for almost 10 years and while we regret this incident, we look forward to continuing to visit and explore the wonderful ports and communities along the Cumberland River with our small riverboats.”

Coast Guard officials said they were notified about the stuck riverboat on Thursday at 8am but attempts have been made to get the riverboat unstuck.

“The vessel became off course and routed itself on the left descending bank. Original efforts to try and remove the vessel with the passengers on board proved unsuccessful so right now the company and the United States Coast Guard are developing additional plans to move forward to keep passengers and crews safe,’ said Lt. Nolan. – Lt. John Nolan with Marine Safety Unit Paducah.

Nolan said the riverboat has 120 passengers and 54 crew members on board.

American Cruise Lines confirmed this morning said that passengers were being taken off the vessel and being taken to the Drury Hotel in Nashville.

Nolan noted that all the passengers and crew members were safe on board the “American Jazz” awaiting to be evacuated.

“The vessel has medical personnel. the company as well as the Coast Guard have developed a plan for any medical emergency that may arise. Any means to effectively evacuate any persons that require medical assistance,” Lt. Nolan said. “In terms of food and water, the crew has determined they have sufficient means of water and food and if there is additional water and food required, there is a plan in place to provide that,” he added.

Lt. Nolan also reassured loved ones that their family members on board the riverboat were safe.

“Our number priority is to ensure their safety, no matter what plan is developed,” he added.

News4 asked what difficulty they are facing with moving the riverboat.

“The challenges that we’re facing is moving the vessel is just that it is a large vessel for the area and its currently sitting in a position where the vessel is sitting on the side of the lake outside the channel in mudded sand,” Lt. Nolan said.

Lt. Nolan also has a message of caution for people who plan to be on Lake Barkley near the marooned ship.

“To the commercial and boating public, we have a safety zone in place around the vessel and we ask mariners to not go through the safety zone wall where we are conducting operations. That makes our job more difficult,” Lt. Nolan said.

Lt. Nolan told News4 that all 120 passengers had been taken off the riverboat on Friday evening.

The “American Jazz” was heading from Memphis to Nashville as a part of the seven-night Music Cities Cruise.

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