Panamanian ships collide near Mumbai, 33 sailors rescued

August 7th, 2010 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 7 (IANS) The Indian Coast Guard rescued all 33 sailors from two Panamanian cargo ships which collided off the Mumbai Harbour here Saturday morning, an official said.
The two vessels — MV Khalija-III and MSC Chitra — loaded with containers containing dry cargo, collided when the former was attempting to berth at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), off Mumbai, around 9.45 a.m, an official of the Indian Coast Guard said.

Both the vessels, measuring at least 200 metres in length, tilted sharply due to the impact of the collision, even as the port and Coast Guard officials mounted a rescue operation.

The MSC Chitra, which was in the process of getting out of the JNPT area, got grounded in the vicinity of the Prong Reef Lighthouse due to the impact.

On receiving an SOS message, the Indian Coast Guard immediately diverted its vessel ICG Kamala Devi for relief and rescue operations.

All the 33 sailors from the two ships were rescued and shifted to shore aboard ICG tug Vamsee-III, with no reports of injuries to any of them.

Some oil spillage was noticed from the two ships but the officials described it as “minor and completely under control”.

The Coast Guard has deployed a helicopter and a vessel to monitor and control the oil spillage and launch necessary efforts to avoid sea pollution in the area.

The preliminary cause of the collision is suspected navigational error on the part of one or both the ships’ captains, but the details will be investigated by statutory agencies like the Directorate-General of Shipping besides the Mumbai Port authorities.

Meanwhile, by late afternoon, the tilted ships stabilised and were not in danger of sinking or creating shipping traffic hazard in the busy port area off Mumbai, the official said.

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