Shipping on the Great Lakes should be back to normal by early Monday evening, Canadian marine authorities said, as a 730-ft. freighter, which crashed into a lift bridge across the Welland Canal, has been towed away. "They're raising the bridge at the moment and they will have to make sure it (is secure) before telling the ships to move into the canal," said Sylvie Moncion, a spokeswoman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which operates the key marine route into central North America.
Moncion said traffic on the Welland Canal portion of the Seaway system had been stalled by the accident, with 25 ships now waiting to go through the canal. She expected the canal to resume normal operations around 6:30 p.m. (2230 GMT).
The Canadian grain carrier Windoc, carrying 26,000 tons of wheat, struck the bridge on late Saturday after it began to lower prematurely. The collision tore off the ship's wheelhouse and smokestack, setting the stern of the vessel ablaze and lighting up the night sky over the small town of Allanburg, Ontario.
The ship's crew of 22 escaped with minor injuries, but the accident shut down the Welland Canal linking
Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, a key section of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects international shipping with ports on the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States.
Estimated cargo traffic on the Welland Canal was 37 million tons in 2000, much of which was shipments of iron ore and wheat for both North American and international markets. Canada's Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident, which is expected to total several million dollars in damages to both the ship and the bridge. - (Reuters)