Coast Guard: Cruise ship hits rock, runs aground southwest of Juneau, Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A cruise ship ran aground off the Alaska coast early Monday, and more than 200 passengers were being transferred to life boats and a nearby barge, Coast Guard officials said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The 360-foot Empress of the North, carrying 281 people, was listing by about 6 degrees after hitting a rock at the southern end of the Icy Strait, about 15 miles southwest of Juneau, said Petty Officer Christopher D. McLaughlin at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak.

A Coast Guard plane and helicopter were dispatched after an emergency radio message came in from the ship at 12:35 a.m., McLaughlin said.

It wasn't immediately clear why the ship ran around, McLaughlin said, but he said the ship was not believed to be taking on water.

The Empress of the North is operated by Majestic America Line of Seattle. The ship has 112 staterooms, a three-story paddlewheel and galleries featuring Native American masks and Russian artwork, including Faberge eggs, according to its Web site.

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