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Two ships collide, oil spill off Mumbai coast

August 07, 2010 18:49 IST

Two Panamanian cargo ships collided on Saturday off the Mumbai coast causing an oil spill from one of the vessels but no casualties were reported, Indian Coast Guard officials said.

33 crew members, including two Pakistanis, were rescued following the incident, they said. According to Coast Guard officials, MSC Chitra, the outbound merchant vessel from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, collided with MV Khalijia-III, five nautical miles from the shores at 9:50 am when the latter was sailing towards Mumbai Port Trust, off Mumbai harbour, for berthing.

Both the ships, measuring at least 180 metres in length, developed cracks following the collision.

Chitra tilted sharply under the impact, resulting in oil spill, they said. A senior Coast Guard official said on condition of that the spill was "significant" but claimed the situation was "under control".

The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a call soon after the collision and the Regional Operational Centre promptly diverted Coast Guard ship Kamala Devi for assistance, the officials said.

The Indian captain and 32 crew members of Chitra were evacuated and the ship was grounded in the vicinity of the Prong Reef Lighthouse.

Chitra, heading towards Mundra port in Gujarat, was loaded with dry cargo containers while Khalijia had 30,000 tons of steel coils.

Khalijia had reported on-board flooding off the city harbour on July 19 after it developed cracks and had been stationed here since then for repairs.

A helicopter and a ship of the Coast Guard were pressed into service to check the oil spill, Coast Guard officials said, adding it was not immediately possible to quantify the spillage or resultant damage to maritime fauna and flora.

Preliminary probe indicates that navigational error by the captains of the two ships could have led to the collision. "A clearer and complete picture would emerge only after a detailed investigation," officials said.

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