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Runaway barges slam into Arkansas River dam, endanger town, Oklahoma officials say

Watch barges collide with dam on Arkansas River in Oklahoma and sink

Two runaway barges collided with a dam on the Arkansas River near Webber Falls, Oklahoma, on May 23, 2019, after the boats broke loose of their moorings amid flooding. The slammed into a concrete barrier at a lock and sunk.
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Two runaway barges collided with a dam on the Arkansas River near Webber Falls, Oklahoma, on May 23, 2019, after the boats broke loose of their moorings amid flooding. The slammed into a concrete barrier at a lock and sunk.

Two barges that broke loose on the swollen Arkansas River slammed into a dam Thursday, endangering an Oklahoma town earlier evacuated, KTUL reported.

The barges had earlier been found “stuck on a rock jetty” upstream of a lock and dam at Webbers Falls, which had been evacuated Wednesday when the barges went missing after breaking free, KFOR reported.

Crews tried to secure the barges, but they later broke free and crashed into the dam before sinking, 40/29 News reported. Officials are inspecting the dam for damage.

If the runaway barges breach the dam, the town faces “catastrophic” flooding, the Tulsa World reported.

Interstate 40 and Highway 64, also closed as a precaution, will remain shut down for now, the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office wrote on Facebook on Thursday morning.

Deadly spring storms are hammering the Midwest, with tornadoes touching down in Missouri and widespread flooding in other states, CBS News reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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