A Carnival cruise ship was evacuated on Wednesday after explosions on two nearby barges lit up the Alabama sky and left three people critically injured.
About 800 crew members were made to evacuate the Carnival Triumph after two nearby barges exploded, leaving unsafe conditions for nearby vessels.
The explosions that forced the evacuation happened on two fuel barges in Mobile, Alabama. The fire, which appeared to be accidental, left three people with severe burns.
Firefighters were called shortly after 8:30 pm on Wednesday for the explosions, which took place on the Mobile River east of downtown. The initial blast happened in a channel near the George C. Wallace Tunnel, which carries traffic from Interstate 10 under the Mobile River, but the tunnel was able to remain open.
“It literally sounded like bombs going off around. The sky just lit up in orange and red,” a witness to the explosion said. “We could smell something in the air, we didn’t know if it was gas or smoke.” Waugh said he could feel the heat from the explosion and when he came back inside, his partner noticed he had what appeared to be black soot on his face.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the explosions are still under investigation.
“Once (the fire) is out and safe, a full investigation will take place,” a spokesman said.
After the explosion, authorities ordered the Carnival ship to be evacuated. The ship had become disabled in February in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine room fire and was towed to Mobile’s port. The ship is still undergoing repairs.
The crew members who evacuated the Carnival ship were first told they would be sent to the Convention Center in Mobile, but were instead sent to the Civic Center.
There, the South Alabama branch of the Salvation Army distributed food and beverages to those who evacuated the Carnival ship. They were able to return to the ship on Thursday morning.