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Indonesian ship sinking in Bay of Bengal
M Chhaya in Kolkata | May 16, 2003 12:31 IST
An Indonesian cargo ship carrying chemicals and oil is sinking in the Bay of Bengal off West Bengal's coast, officials said on Friday.
All the 22 crewmembers of Figitika Biru, sailing from Porbandar in Gujarat to Chittagong port in Bangladesh, were safe, Kolkata Port Trust officials said.
The ship began sinking near the Haldia sand-head, some 280 kilometres south of Kolkata, on Thursday afternoon after developing a hole.
The ship's consignment of oil and soda ash is beginning to mix with seawater.
The vessel was carrying 20,000 tons of soda ash and 150 tons of oil. It wasn't yet known if the oil was crude petroleum.
The sailors of the wrecked ship were rescued by Indian Coast Guard personnel and taken to a nearby ship.
It wasn't yet known how the ship developed the hole. Attempts to tow the vessel to Haldia Port, about 100 km from the accident site, had failed.
The ship was only 12 hours away from its destination.
Shipping Minister Shatrughan Sinha also expressed concern at possible marine pollution.
Sinha, who arrived at Haldia to hold a review meeting of the Haldia dock complex as well as the Kolkata Port, was keeping in touch with the port authorities about the grounded vessel.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Port Trust authoritis said that the ship was grounded in shallow waters. "There is very little possibility of marine pollution right now," Captain A K Bagchi, director of the marine department of KPT, said.
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