One dead, two missing after tugboat hits construction barge under New York bridge
Tugboat - Shutterstock

A tugboat crew member died and two were missing on Saturday after the vessel collided with a barge and sank in the Hudson River under the Tappan Zee Bridge north of New York City, authorities said.

The pre-dawn accident involved a 90-foot tug with three people on board that struck a construction barge moored under the bridge, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. He said one crew member died in the incident.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday night said that after 12 hours of looking, they had suspended the active search for the two missing crew members.

Cuomo said the state's Department of Environmental Conservation and a private contractor would work to contain as much as 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaking from the sunken tug. The fuel leak created a slick some 300 feet (91 meters) wide and 5 miles (8 km) long, he said.

Barges are moored near the bridge as part of the construction of a new span connecting New York's Rockland and Westchester counties. Cuomo said there were 21 workers on the construction barge at the time of the collision, but none were injured.

The tugboat, named Specialist, was one in a party of three tugs transporting a barge with construction equipment down the Hudson River when it veered from the designated channel and crashed into the stationed construction barge. The other two boats were not involved in the crash.

It was not the first fatal accident since the massive bridge project began.

In July 2013, a speedboat carrying six members of a wedding party smashed into a barge anchored below the span, a major transportation link in the city's northern suburbs. Two people were killed, including the bride-to-be and the best man.

(Reporting by Frank McGurty and Joey Ax in New York; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Chang and Diane Craft)