Cargo ship sinks off Mumbai, probe ordered (Third Lead)

August 4th, 2011 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 4 (IANS) The ill-fated Panamanian flagged cargo ship M.V. Rak Carrier, that was stuck off Mumbai harbour Thursday morning, sank around 3 p.m., raising apprehensions about an ecological threat to the area, an official said.

The 30 crewmen aboard — all Indonesians, Jordanians and Romanians — were rescued Thursday morning by a coordinated effort of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, after the crew sent out a distress call around 8 a.m.

The vessel, which had tilted more than three-fourths by 2 p.m., started going down soon thereafter and sank in the next one hour, the official said.

The preliminary assessment suggests a suspected leakage from somewhere near the ship’s propellers, but the exact causes will be known after the probe ordered by the Directorate-General of Shipping (DGS) is completed.

The ship, owned and managed by M/s. Delta Shipping Marine Services, was carrying 290 tonnes of fuel oil and another 50 tonnes of diesel, which could pose a serious environmental hazard.

It was on a voyage from Lubuk-Tutung, Indonesia to Dahej Port, Gujarat, carrying 60,000 tonnes of coal as cargo.

The DGS has also served notice to the Panama maritime authorities, from where the vessel was registered and to the ship owners, manager and local agent under provisions of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.

The Mumbai Port Trust and National Hydrographic Officer, Dehradun, have been told to issue navigational warning about the location of the 225 metre-long ship, near the busy Mumbai harbour.

Agencies like the Mumbai Collector, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Director-General of Lighthouse and Lightships, port authorities and others have been directed to initiate action against the ship owners and insurers as per international laws.

Shortly after receiving the distress signal, the Indian Cost Guard and other agencies immediately dispatched two helicopters and a smaller vessel to the fast sinking ship, which was ordered to be anchored around 25 nautical miles off south Mumbai.

“Within a couple of hours, we succeeded in rescuing all the 30 crewmen, including 11 who had jumped into the sea. They have been brought ashore to Mumbai,” coast guard spokesman R.V. Prasad told IANS.

A coast guard ship, Samudri Prahar, which was in the vicinity, was diverted to the disaster site to coordinate relief operations.

It will continue to be positioned in the affected areas to monitor the situation and check whether the sunken ship could pose environmental hazards, Prasad said.

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