Passengers forced to flee grounded tourist boat

Passengers forced to flee grounded tourist boat
An excursion boat ran aground on the River Aare in the canton of Solothurn on Tuesday forcing 148 passengers to board another vessel.

The stricken MS Rousseau, operated by the Lake Biel Navigation Company (BSG), lost steering following technical problems in the afternoon, the SDA news agency reported.

The vessel, built just last year, was travelling from Biel in the canton of Bern to Solothurn when it hit bottom at Altreu, a municipality in the canton of Solothurn.

Passengers were transferred to a ferry, which safely transported them to shore, where they were able to board a bus and continue their journey, BSG executive director Thomas Erne told local media.

No one was reported hurt in the accident, the exact causes of which remain under investigation.

The Rousseau, a 38-metre-long craft capable of carrying 300 passengers, was towed to Solothurn for an inspection and repairs, SDA said.

The boat plies the Aare River between Biel and Solothurn during the summer months, while in the winter it carries passengers on Lake Biel.

Shortly after launching in the spring of 2012 it had to be taken out of service for three weeks due to a defect, the SDA said. 

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