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Port orders probe into boat collision

Staff Reporter
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The boat that collided with INS Viraat in Ernakulam on Sunday anchored in the jetty.
The boat that collided with INS Viraat in Ernakulam on Sunday anchored in the jetty.

An inquiry will be made into the incident on Sunday in which a Kerala State Water Transport Department boat carrying around 100 passengers thumped against aircraft-carrier INS Viraat after being caught in the bow thrust of an Italian cruise liner.

Chairman of Cochin Port Trust Paul Antony ordered the port’s deputy conservator Captain Paul Joseph to conduct the inquiry and submit a report since the incident took place in the port waters.

Sources in the Water Transport Department told The Hindu that the crew of the passenger vessel A-89 involved in the incident had been called for a hearing on Tuesday on the incident.

They claimed that the port authority had not issued a warning or alert regarding the movement of the cruise liner, which was sailing out of the harbour without the help of tugs. This is a new development in which tugs are done away with and ships sail out directly, they said.

The issue of the port not warning the passenger boats about the movement of large vessels will be brought to the notice of the port authority, they said.

Port Trust sources indicated that the incident may have been the result of a human error.

The incident took place while the passenger boat was close to the Q berth of the Cochin Port Trust and was on the Island-Fort Kochi-Vypeen route. The roof of the passenger boat was damaged.

The incident has raised concern among passengers, about 15,000 of whom use the ferry services on a normal day. An official of the Water Transport Department said it was fortunate that nothing more serious occurred.

Passenger boat crew have now been issued instructions to give priority to safety in all circumstances, in spite of their busy schedule.

Passenger boats are scheduled every 15 minutes and delay in one trip can have a cascading effect affecting the entire schedule, the official said.

The State Water Transport Department operates seven boats in the sector, which operate more than 100 trips a day.

On some days, the boats are filled to capacity and carry more than 100 passengers.

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