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Alaska ferry gets stuck on reef

109 evacuated safely as ship takes on water

SITKA, Alaska -- A 235-foot ferry with more than 100 people aboard struck a reef yesterday and began taking on water, forcing the passengers and crew to abandon ship.

All 86 passengers and 23 crew members were evacuated from the vessel and put into life rafts and aboard passing ships, said Alaska Marine Highway System spokeswoman Nona Wilson. Three people were taken to a hospital.

The LeConte, a 31-year-old ferry run by the state, was stuck on a reef in Peril Strait about 30 miles north of Sitka, Wilson said.

"They are hard aground," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Raymer. "They're stuck good."

The ship was taking on water, but the ebbing tide meant it was in no immediate danger of sinking, Wilson said.

The Coast Guard sent three helicopters and a cutter to perform emergency repairs. Divers were sent to examine the damage.

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