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Rescue saves passengers on Alaskan tour boat

The Coast Guard, the National Park Service and good Samaritans rescued 72 people who were on a sightseeing trip after their tour boat hit a rock at Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

The captain had been trying to get the boat nearer to shore to see brown bears, an official at Allen Marine Tours told the Associated Press on Monday.

Seventy of the passengers were safely transferred to a large Holland America cruise ship, the Vollendam, which was in the area and responded to the emergency, and two were taken aboard a National Park Service vessel, according to the Coast Guard statement. Only minor injuries were reported.

Four crewmembers from the Baranof Wind remained aboard the tour boat and worked with Coast Guard personnel to pump water out of the vessel and keep it from sinking, the Coast Guard said. The boat was stabilized after the accident and there were no immediate signs of spills or other pollution, Coast Guard spokesman David Mosley said.

John Dunlap, a vice president at Allen Marine Tours, told the AP the captain was trying to maneuver closer to shore so passengers could see one or more bears. At some point, Dunlap said, the captain realized he was in shallower water and started to back up, but he did so along a different track than the boat came in on and the Baranof Wind apparently hit a rock.

Click here for the full report.

Click here for the full Coast Guard release.