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Coast Guard in battle mode as MV Rak leaks oil

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 07, 2011
First Published: 14:35 IST(7/8/2011) | Last Updated: 12:34 IST(8/8/2011)

An oil leak was reported from Panama-flagged cargo vessel MV Rak Carrier, which sank off the Mumbai coast earlier this week due to ingress of water into the cargo hull, officials said.

“Since last night, oil has been observed leaking from the sunken vessel at an approximate rate of 1.5 to 2 tonnes per hour. The oil has spread to about 7 nautical miles around the vessel,” a press release issued by the defence ministry on Sunday said.

The vessel, which was on its way from Indonesia’s Tutung harbour to Dahej in Gujarat with 60,000 tonnes of coal, had a 30-member crew of Indonesians, Jordanians and Romanians. All crew members were rescued by Indian Navy and Coast Guard personnel before the ship sank on August 4.

Costal authorities have been asked to keep a contingency plan ready in case the oil spreads further. The defence ministry has asked the Maharashtra government to direct fishermen to refrain from fishing near the area affected by the oil spill.

The 225 metre-long vessel reportedly contained 290 tonnes of fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel, the director general (shipping) said.

Immediately after the leak was detected on Saturday, the Coast Guard was pressed into action. Coast Guard ship Samudra Prahari used an oil spill dispersant to neutralise the damage.

A top official of the directorate general of shipping said the vessel had a valid insurance cover against pollution damages. An assessment of the situation, including removal of oil from the ship, was being done by a salvage company, he said.

The cleaning and containing operation, code-named Operation Paryavaran Suraksha-2/2011 has another Coast Guard vessel standing by to join the salvage mission, an official said.

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