Divers to look for 150 missing containers | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Divers to look for 150 missing containers

At least 150 containers, which were on board the vessel MSC Chitra and may contain hazardous material, are missing. The containers fell into the sea when the vessel collided with another vessel, MV Khalijia-III, in August.

mumbai Updated: Sep 07, 2010 02:16 IST
Bhavika Jain

At least 150 containers, which were on board the vessel MSC Chitra and may contain hazardous material, are missing.

The containers fell into the sea when the vessel collided with another vessel, MV Khalijia-III, in August.

Officials from the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) said a team of divers has been called to search for these missing. “Naval officers, who are conducting air sorties, have not found any floating containers. We assume these containers have sunk,” a senior DGS officer said. At least 48 floating containers have been retrieved.

Director General of Shipping Satish Agnihotri said the exact number of missing containers can only be ascertained when the containers on the deck of MSC Chitra are recovered.

“The number of missing containers is estimated to be more than 150. A few of them contain pesticides,” Agnihotri said. He added that these containers are not in the main navigational channel so they will not hamper port activities.

MSC Chitra was carrying 531 containers of which 31 contained hazardous material. Twenty-five were carrying solid sodium hydroxide and six were carrying pesticides.

The collision between MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia-III resulted in an oil spill in the Arabian Sea that authorities are still struggling to clean.

Qaisar Khalid, deputy commissioner of police (port zone), said: “We have called a team of experts to clear the pesticide-laden containers that have been traced.”

One such container, containing aluminum phosphate, which fell spilt some of its contents into the sea. Another container carrying pesticides also fell into the water.

“There were five places where water samples showed traces of pesticides [after the collision] but a week later, they showed no traces of pesticides,” said a senior official from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board. “We are assuming the pesticides may have got diluted.”

MSC Chitra continues to be stable with a 19-degree tilt. Fifty containers have been offloaded.

The first barge with 42 containers is awaiting berthing at Jawahar Nehru Port Trust.

The Mumbai Port Trust and Maharashtra Maritime Board have allowed given ferry operators a green signal because their routes have been surveyed and declared safe for navigation.

Officials from the DGS said investigation into the collision is nearly complete except for the forensic evidence that they are awaiting.

(With inputs from Megha Sood)