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Egypt gives go-ahead to Clemenceau

The decommissioned French warship carrying hazardous waste had been detained en route to India on Thursday.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2006 03:46 IST

Egypt on Sunday approved the transit through the Suez Canal of a decommissioned French aircraft carrier with 45 tonnes of asbestos that is en route to India to be dismantled, official news agency MENA reported.

Egyptian officials had blocked the Clemenceau from entering the canal on Thursday and demanded documents from the French government to confirm the vessel was not carrying hazardous materials.

Greenpeace activists had earlier boarded the ship, demanding that Cairo refuse it passage and claiming the ship-breaking yard in Gujarat for which the Clemenceau was bound was not equipped to handle toxic materials on the carrier.

Egypt's ministry of state for environmental affairs said in a statement Sunday - that was cited by MENA - that it gave the green signal to the passage of the Clemenceau based on the French government's approval for dispatching the ship and India's willingness to accept it.

Egypt had received assurances from the French environment ministry that the navy had taken all dangerous materials from the vessel, other than 45 tonnes of asbestos that could not be removed without harming the body of the ship, said the statement.

India, based on the approval of environmental and port authorities, was willing to accept the ship, said a letter from its embassy in France that was provided to Egyptian authorities.

The Suez Canal Authority had taken necessary precautionary measures to enable the Clemenceau's safe passage, MENA said, but did not add when the vessel would transit the waterway.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 00:40 IST