NOORPUR (West Bengal): A Bangladeshi barge, on its way to the Narayanganj inland port, sank in the Hooghly river after it ran aground hitting an island at Noorpur in South 24 Parganas district on Monday.
The barge was carrying 700 tonnes of steel coils worth Rs.4 crore. It left the Kolkata port on Sunday night.
Kolkata Port Trust (KPT) sources said m v Nilam had 11 people onboard, all of whom were rescued by the local people.
“The steering wheel chain snapped early on Monday, leaving the barge at the mercy of strong currents,” said Najmul, a crew member. The radar got stuck in the sand bed due to the current and the barge started tilting, he said.
Sheikh Saidul, a boatman, said: “We saw some men frantically waving red clothes in the air as the barge was fast sinking. We immediately went to their rescue.”
Director of the Inland Water Authority of India (IWAI) Arun Roy said efforts were on to salvage the cargo. He, however, expressed concern over the large quantity of barge fuel which spilled into the river, raising ecological concerns.
The crew members were confined to a boat throughout the day as the local agents of the shipping firm, MM Shipping Company, were looking for accommodation.
The Bangladeshi crew members were not allowed onshore as they did not have passports. They enter India with a temporary licence from the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority under an Indo-Bangladesh bilateral trade norm.