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Old September 14th, 2008, 08:42 PM   #1
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Boat Collision in Paris

2 pilots of tourist boat detained after 2 killed in accident on Seine River in Paris
14 September 2008

PARIS (AP) - Two people died after a small boat sank in central Paris, and police investigating the possibility of a collision detained the pilot and co-pilot of one of the large tourist boats that carry sightseers along the Seine river, officials said Sunday.

The smaller boat was carrying 12 people when it sank Saturday night in the heart of Paris near Notre Dame Cathedral. Ten of those aboard were rescued immediately, but a 6-year-old child and an adult in the bottom of the boat were trapped underwater for several minutes before divers pulled them out.

The two, who French news reports said were a boy and his father, were hospitalized and then died overnight, police said.

The circumstances of the accident remained unclear.

Investigators say a collision between the two boats appeared the most likely cause of the accident, according to judicial officials. The Paris prosecutor's office opened an investigation into manslaughter and involuntary injury, the officials said.

The judicial officials were not authorized to be named because the investigation is under way.

Earlier, senior government minister Jean-Louis Borloo, who oversees transportation and the environment, said investigators were looking into two possible causes: that the smaller boat collided with a larger tourist boat, or that the smaller boat hit a pillar of the bridge.

The pilot and co-pilot of the tourist boat, known as a "bateau-mouche," were being held by Paris judicial police. A crane retrieved the sunken boat early Sunday.

The accident occurred near the Pont de l'Archeveche, a short and narrow bridge joining the Left Bank and the small island Ile de la Cite. The isle is site of Notre Dame Cathedral, where Pope Benedict XVI led a vespers service Friday night.

Evening cruises along the Seine are a major attraction for Parisians and tourists alike, and boats large and small frequent the river throughout the day.
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