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Removal of oil from sunken ship begins

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The Chinese merchant vessel, Asian Forest, which listed off the Mangalore coast on July 17 and sank on July 18.
The Chinese merchant vessel, Asian Forest, which listed off the Mangalore coast on July 17 and sank on July 18.

Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE: A Chinese merchant vessel, Asian Forest, which listed off Mangalore coast on July 17, sank on July 18. The process of removing oil from it began on Tuesday, six months after it sank. The ship has approximately 400 tonnes of oil.

The 18-member crew abandoned the ship on July 17. Some were rescued by the Coast Guard while some reached the shore on a life boat.

Apprehensive

When the ship sank six nautical miles (11 km) southwest off the New Mangalore Port, fishermen, the district administration personnel and the Coast Guard were apprehensive about the possible oil leak from it. The ship was carrying iron ore to Hong Kong.

Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj and Padam Shekhar Jha, Commander of the Karnataka Coast Guard, held a meeting on Tuesday about removing the oil from the ship.

Wan Yet Fong, Assistant Salvage Master, SMIT, Singapore Pvt. Ltd., explained the steps being taken to remove the oil.

He told the meeting that it would require 36 days to remove the oil from Tuesday. The company would adopt hot tap system to remove the oil.

Poor visibility

When Mr. Ponnuraj asked why they did not remove the oil much earlier, he said that visibility was poor during the monsoon.

The Deputy Commissioner instructed a representative of the ship-owners to arrange for removing the wreckage at the earliest, as it posed a danger to other vessels.

Chris Farmer, the representative, who initially evaded the question, finally said that it was a separate issue.

Mr. Ponnuraj told presspersons that the administration would put pressure on the ship-owners to remove the wreckage at the earliest.

He said that 12 of the 18 crew members detained by the administration had been released.

Rethink

The administration would have to rethink releasing the six members, if the owners did not come forward to remove the wreckage, he added.

He said that the Directorate-General of Shipping had instructed the owners to remove the oil from it in August or September.

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