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February 4th, 2006, 01:57 AM
Outdated Safety Measures Endanger Ferries
By MATTIAS KAREN
3 February 2006
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Caught in a violent storm, 852 passengers died within minutes after winds ripped off the bow door of the ferry Estonia in 1994, sending icy water gushing through the car deck.
On Friday, authorities sought clues after another "roll-on, roll-off" ferry sank in the Red Sea with nearly 1,500 people aboard. The cause was unknown, but experts said the vessel's design may have been a key factor.
The 35-year-old ferry Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 had a similar -- but older -- door construction to the Estonia, said Johan Franson, safety expert at the Swedish Maritime Administration.
"The basic problem with these ships is that if water enters the car deck, it makes the ship unstable and it can then capsize," he said.
Outdated designs and safety measures can quickly turn older ships into death traps.
David Osler, of the London shipping paper Lloyds List, said "it would only take a bit of water to get on board this ship and it would all be over."
"The percentage of this type of ferry involved in this type of disaster is huge," Osler said.
But new designs -- which could keep stricken vessels afloat for up to 24 hours -- could soon be rolling off the production line.
Since the Estonia disaster in the Baltic Sea, Swedish and international experts have come up with safety improvements aimed at drastically decreasing the risk of flooding.
Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg and SSPA Sweden, a company focusing on maritime safety, are developing a ship with a double layer of walls that would give it extra buoyancy, said Claes Kallstrom, a SSPA safety expert.
That would make a ship more resistant to tilting.
"If water was to enter the deck on the new model, it would spread equally over the entire deck to stabilize the ship, instead of weighing down one side," Kallstrom said. "A ship should be able to remain floating up to 24 hours."
Anders Ulfvarson, a maritime technology expert at Chalmers, said blueprints for the new model will be presented within months. A new fleet could be built within a few years, he said.
Such improved safety may not drastically reduce the number of ferry disasters, however, as most take place in poorer countries that often buy used ships from Western nations.
"Those are not sold as dangerous ships, but they become dangerous if they are not maintained," said Anders Ulfvarson, a marine technology expert.
Africa has seen some of the worst ferry disasters in the last decade.
The Senegalese ferry MS Joola capsized Sept. 26, 2002, killing more than 1,800 people. In 1996, a ferry sank in Lake Victoria in east Africa, killing at least 500 people.
Oumar Faye, a retired ferry captain in the Senegalese capital Dakar, says "most companies that operate ferry services care very little about safety standards."
Aside from outdated safety features, Faye blamed overloaded vessels and official corruption for the high rate of sea disasters in Africa. He said inspectors are bribed to ignore defects.
Miles Cowsill, editor of the magazine European Ferry Scene, agreed that inspections are "not as rigorous as they should be" in many parts of the world. "This disaster (in Egypt) sadly doesn't come as a surprise to me," he said.
The Genoa-based Italian Naval Registry said the Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 passed its last inspection in June 2005.
Spokesman Mario Dogliana warned against premature conclusions that water had entered the ship's car deck. "The ship was always in order, according to the technical norms of international safety," he said.
Associated Press writers Tariq Panja in London, Nicole Winfield in Rome and Ebrima Sillah in Dakar contributed to this report.
February 4th, 2006, 01:58 AM
Some of the most famous and deadliest maritime disasters
By The Associated Press
3 February 2006
Some of the deadliest and most famous civilian maritime disasters:
Feb. 3, 2006: Egyptian passenger ship Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 sinks in the Red Sea.
Sept. 26, 2002 -- Senegalese ferry capsizes in a storm off Gambia in West Africa, killing more than 1,800 people.
May 21, 1996 -- A ferry sinks in Lake Victoria in east Africa, killing at least 500 people. One estimate puts the number of dead at 800.
Sept. 28, 1994 -- The ferry Estonia sinks during a storm in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people.
Feb. 16, 1993 -- Overcrowded ferry sinks between Jeremie and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, estimated 500-700 dead.
Dec. 20, 1987 -- In the world's worst peacetime shipping disaster, 4,340 drown when the ferry Dona Paz collides with the tanker MT Victor in the Philippines.
Aug. 31, 1986 -- Soviet passenger ship Admiral Nakhimov collides with a merchant vessel in the Black Sea, sinking both ships and killing up to 448 people.
May 25, 1986 -- Some 600 people die when a ferry goes down in the River Meghna in Bangladesh.
Jan. 27, 1981 -- 580 killed when Indonesian passenger ship Tamponas II catches fire and sinks in Java sea.
July 25, 1956 -- Two passenger liners, the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm, collide off Massachusetts, sinking the Andrea Doria and killing 46 of its 1,706 passengers and crew.
May 7, 1915 -- The British ocean liner Lusitania is torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, killing 1,195 people.
May 29, 1914 -- A Canadian Pacific steamship, the Empress of Ireland, collides with a Norwegian freighter near Quebec, sinking in 14 minutes and killing 1,012 people.
April 12, 1912 -- The Titanic -- the world's largest passenger steamship at the time-- strikes an iceberg in the Atlantic and sinks on its maiden voyage, killing at least 1,496 people.
June 15, 1904 -- The steamship General Slocum catches fire in New York's East River, killing more than 1,000 people.
April 27, 1865 -- The steamboat Sultana sinks after its steam drum explodes on the Mississippi River, killing at least 1,700 people.
February 4th, 2006, 02:00 AM
Egyptian passenger ship with more than 1,400 aboard sinks in Red Sea - most feared dead
By MARIAM FAM
3 February 2006
SAFAGA, Egypt (AP) - Rescue boats and helicopters converged in the choppy waters of the Red Sea on Friday, searching for survivors of an aging ferry that sank with more than 1,400 people on board, mainly Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia. Most were feared lost but officials said at least 324 made it to safety.
Transportation Minister Mohammed Lutfy Mansour told reporters early Saturday a "small fire" broke out on the ferry before it sank, and said investigators were still working to determine its connection to the sinking. He said there was no explosion on the vessel.
At the Egyptian Red Sea port of Hurghada, nearly 140 survivors were brought to shore early Saturday. They walked off the ship down a ramp, some of them barefoot and shivering, wrapped in blankets, and immediately boarded buses to take them to the hospital.
Some shouted to waiting journalists, angry that their rescue had taken so long.
"They left us in the water for 24 hours. A helicopter came above us and circled, we would signal and they ignored us," one man shouted. "Our lives are the cheapest in the world," another said. Lines of police kept journalists away from the survivors to prevent them asking questions.
A spokesman for President Hosni Mubarak said the ferry did not have enough lifeboats, and questions were raised about the safety of the 35-year-old, refitted ship that was weighed down with 220 cars as well as the passengers.
"It's a roll-on, roll-off ferry, and there is big question mark over the stability of this kind of ship," said David Osler of the London shipping paper Lloyds List. "It would only take a bit of water to get on board this ship and it would be all over. ... The percentage of this type of ferry involved in this type of disaster is huge."
Weather may also have been a factor. There were high winds and a sandstorm overnight on Saudi Arabia's west coast.
Officials said more than 185 bodies were recovered while hundreds remained missing in the dark, chilly sea nearly 24 hours after the ship went down. One lifeboat was sighted from a helicopter during the day bobbing in the waves with what appeared to be about a dozen or more passengers.
Hundreds of angry relatives of the passengers crowded for hours outside Egypt's port of Safaga, south of Hurghada, where the ferry had been heading. They shouted at police barring the iron gates and complained they had no information on their loved ones.
"This is a dirty government, may God burn their hearts as they burned mine," one woman wailed, slapping her face in grief. "I want my brother. I have no one else in this life."
Mansour said said 324 people were rescued so far. A ministry spokesman said a 3-year-old child, was among those saved.
February 4th, 2006, 02:01 AM
Roll-on-roll off ferries have safety problems : specialist
LONDON, Feb 3, 2006 (AFP) - The kind of ferry which sank on Friday in the Red Sea killing hundreds of people is known for having safety problems, a specialist in maritime safety said on Friday.
The specialist David Osler, of the Lloyd's List shipping daily, said the kind of roll-on-roll off ferry, like the Herald of Free Enterprise which sank off Zeebrugge, Belgium on March 6, 1987, killing 193 passengers, needed to take in only a small amount of water to capsize.
The Egyptian ship sank in the Red Sea in bad weather on an overnight crossing from Saudi Arabia with some 1,300 passengers on board.
Osler said that the ship could have capsized due to a leak or collision, leading it to take in water.
He said the safety of roll-on roll-off ferries had significantly improved since 1987, but that the Egyptian ship was much older, dating back to 1970.
The owners of the Panamanian-flagged Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 said between 300 and 400 people had been rescued but maritime sources said heavy seas and strong winds were complicating the work of emergency teams as night fell.
Some 16 hours after the ship encountered difficulties, controversy started to emerge over the 36-year-old vessel's compliance with safety regulations and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak demanded an immediate probe into the accident.
February 4th, 2006, 02:04 AM
Sunken Egyptian ferry is from fleet which has had two major accidents, says British expert
3 February 2006
LONDON (AP) - The Egyptian ferry which sunk Friday was built as part of a fleet which has already suffered two major accidents, claiming dozens of lives, a British shipping expert said.
Andrew Linington, of the National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Officers, said the Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 is a sister ship of the Herald of Free Enterprise, which sunk in 1987 killing 189 people.
The Herald of Free Enterprise capsized off the Belgian port of Zeebrugge when water rushed through the open bow doors.
Linington said a third ship, the Salam 95 -- which was carrying over 1,300 Muslim pilgrims when it collided with a cargo ship in the Suez Canal last October -- was also part of the eight strong Free Enterprise fleet.
"The ferry which has sunk was originally the Free Enterprise IV, built in 1969. It is a sister ship of the Herald of Free Enterprise and also a ship which struck a container ship at Port Tawfiq, in Egypt, in October," said Linington, who added that the sunken vessel had also sailed under the name Tag Al Salam.
"Though they were built at different European shipyards, all three were owned originally by the Townsend Thoresen company. We believe the vessels may share common safety problems".
Townsend Thoresen was acquired by P&O Ferries in 1986 and a company web site lists the Free Enterprise IV as serving on routes from Dover, southern England, and between Cairnryan, in Scotland, and Larne, Northern Ireland, until 1986.
Linington said the vessel later sailed in the Baltic Sea with another company, before it was sold to the Al-Salaam Maritime Transport Company.
February 6th, 2006, 12:46 AM
Why did the Egyptian ferry sink?
Friday's tragedy sparks calls for stricter safety standards and better training for Egyptian crews.
Sarah Gauch Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
6 February 2006
The sinking of a passenger ferry in the Red Sea Friday is prompting Egyptian maritime experts to urge authorities to adopt more stringent safety standards to avoid similar catastrophes in the future.
Al Salam Maritime Transport Company, the ferry's owner, and Egyptian authorities have maintained that the ship passed inspection and met all international safety standards. But analysts are questioning how such a disaster could occur if this was the case.
"I've been working in the sea for 50 years and [Egypt's shipping standards and regulations] are not something to be proud of," says Gamal Abul Azm, an Egyptian maritime expert. "The owners of the vessel said that it had been inspected and that they followed all regulations. They can prove it on paper, but in reality there are a lot of gaps."
With some 460 survivors - out of 1,400 passengers and crew members - it is one of the deadliest maritime disasters in recent years.
Initial reports indicate that soon after departing from Dubah, Saudi Arabia, last Thursday evening, a fire started in the 35-year- old vessel's parking bay. Assuring passengers that the fire was under control, the crew decided to continue on the 120-mile journey to the Red Sea port of Safaga, Egypt.
"We told the crew, 'Let's turn back, let's call for help,' but they refused and said everything was under control," said passenger Ahmed Abdel Wahab, an Egyptian who works in Saudi Arabia.
The car deck flooded as crew members pumped water in to battle the fire. An explosion was heard and within minutes the ship began to list, and high winds reportedly helped pushed the ship over. While the ship had enough life boats for all the passengers, it reportedly sank before most of the boats could be lowered or inflated. Some survivors claimed the ship's captain and some crew members fled the sinking ship in a lifeboat. The captain is still reported missing.
Experts say that while Egypt complies with safely standards on paper, inspections are not rigorous enough and that standards should be more uniformly applied. They also call on the government to stop certifying old ships. Some of these older ships were were bought in Europe, sources say, because they didn't meet safety standards there.
"I expected [a disaster like this] a long time ago," says Mr. Abul Azm, former chairman of Timsah Shipbuilding Company, "because of the condition of vessels that can work in Egypt."
By buying older vessels and then charging cheap prices, as Al Salam Maritime Transport Company allegedly did, allows ship owners turn a much quicker profit than if they operated newer, more expensive vessels, experts say.
Analysts also questioned whether the crew members on the ship, the Al Salaam Boccaccio 98, were properly trained. If so, they should have been able to put out the fire, or at least to safely evacuate all the ship's passengers.
"The fire was going for three hours," says Wael Kaddour, a retired member of the Suez Canal Authority Board. "That was enough time to evacuate the ship safely. What happened is the result of bad management."
Analysts also asked why the crew didn't send a distress signal. Egyptian officials say they were not aware of a problem until the ship didn't arrive as scheduled in Safaga early Friday morning.
To prevent another disaster like this, maritime experts called for more frequent inspections of ships, more safety restrictions, and better training of crew members. "[Safety standards and regulations in Egypt] should be stricter and more thorough," says Salah Tolba, senior surveyor of Lloyd's Register, a prominent maritime risk management group.
In response to the growing call for better safety measures, the government says that it needs to investigate the cause of the ferry disaster first. "We must start with the investigation, with technical, legal, and maritime experts," says one high-ranking Egyptian government official. "If the investigation points to the problem of safety standards and regulations, we will look into this. At this point we have no idea of the relation between safety standards and this accident."
In Safaga, hundreds of relatives of the missing were still waiting for news Sunday. Chanting "down with the Interior Ministry, down with Mubarak," many were incensed over the lack of information and the government's handling of the disaster.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited the hospital where survivors were taken, and has ordered that the families of each victim receive $5,200 and the survivors be paid $2,600.
Many of the ship's passengers were poor Egyptian workers, seeking better incomes in the relatively wealthy Gulf state of Saudi Arabia. Others were pilgrims, returning from the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, who probably couldn't afford air transportation.
* Material from the wire services was used in this report.
February 6th, 2006, 12:47 AM
In Red Sea, only handful more survivors pulled from sea after ferry tragedy
By MARIAM FAM
5 February 2006
SAFAGA, Egypt (AP) - It was a story told over and over by survivors of the sunken ferry. A fire in the hold raged out of control and smoke engulfed the ship during an unusually rough Red Sea crossing. Passengers gathered on deck looking for life jackets and lifeboats but found no help from the crew.
Abdul Muhsin Rayan, a 35-year-old from Sohag -- who like most of the passengers had been working in Saudi Arabia -- said the crew told passengers not to put on life jackets because that would panic the women and children.
"From the captain on down, no one gave us any instructions on what to do," he said from a Safaga hospital bed where he lay recuperating from hours adrift in the tumultuous sea.
While some officials said the ship had plenty of lifesaving craft and life vests, many of the survivors said the crew did nothing to deploy the rafts or help passengers into equipment that could have saved hundreds more lives.
By the end of Sunday, three days after the Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 went down about 55 miles off the Egyptian coast, just 401 of about 1,400 passengers had been rescued.
That figure -- up by 25 from the day before -- was an indication that few more survivors would be found. A total of 195 bodies have been recovered, leaving about 800 others missing and believed drowned when the ship went down after making most of the 120-mile crossing from Saudi Arabia.
Among the survivors was 5-year-old Mohammed Ahmed Hassan, kept afloat by a life ring for more than 20 hours. Doctors said the boy was in good condition but apparently had lost his parents, sister and brother.
Khaled Hassan, a 27-year-old from the village of al-Dhobiyah near Luxor, who was traveling home after working in Kuwait, said he saw the captain jump into a life boat as passengers were left behind. It was impossible to verify his story.
Another survivor, Hassan Bashir from Syria, told reporters that the captain and crew members were among the first to leave the ship. "They took a boat and left," he said.
Egyptian officials said the captain was missing.
Outside the port in Safaga where survivors were being taken, about 100 protesters shouted angrily at police and criticized Egypt's president for not providing more information. On Saturday, family members threw stones at police.
"If you don't have the bodies, at least give us (death) certificates and let us go. You have been torturing us for days," shouted Heshmat Mohammed Hassan from Sohag, whose brother is still missing. He and others criticized the government for what they called slow response to the disaster.
The families need death certificates to claim a payment of $5,200 that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said should go to the family of each victim. The president said survivors would each get $2,600.
Mubarak flew to Hurghada, about 40 miles farther north, on Saturday and visited survivors in two hospitals. Television pictures of the visit, which normally would have carried sound, were silent.
Mubarak has ordered an investigation into the ferry sinking.
But independent Egyptian newspapers have accused his government of protecting the ship's owner, who they say is close to a top official in Mubarak's government. The weekly independent paper Soutelomma said two other ferries owned by the same company had sunk in the past 10 years, without the government properly investigating or putting the company's owner on trial.
Mustafa al-Bakri, part of a delegation of more than 20 members of parliament who went to the port, said lawmakers would try to investigate why Egyptian officials received no distress call from the ship.
He also said other ships owned by the company had been involved in tragedies.
The ship was owned by El Salam Maritime, which issued a statement declaring the vessel complied "with all the international safety regulations and treaties and (was) certified to make international voyages."
The tragedy struck a deep core of discontent among Egyptians, who are suffering from an economic downturn.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians work in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries -- many of them from impoverished families in southern Egypt who spend years abroad to earn money. They often travel by ship to and from Saudi Arabia.
The Egyptian government's rescue effort got off to a slow start. Initial offers of help from the United States and Britain were rejected, and four Egyptian rescue ships reached the scene only by Friday afternoon, about 10 hours after the ferry was believed to have capsized.
The crisis began when a fire broke out in the aging vessel's parking bay, as it was about 20 miles from the Saudi shore where it had sailed from, survivors said Sunday. The crew decided to push across the Red Sea, to try to reach Egypt's shores 100 miles away.
As the fire grew out of control, many passengers moved to one side of the 35-year-old vessel. An explosion was heard, and high winds helped topple the unbalanced ship.
Mubarak spokesman Suleiman Awad said the ferry did not have enough lifeboats and an investigation was under way into the ship's seaworthiness.
But later, Maj. Gen. Sherin Hasan, chairman of the maritime section of the Transportation Ministry, said there were more than enough lifeboats for the number of passengers on the ferry.
February 6th, 2006, 12:49 AM
Egypt ferry victims prey to Red Sea sharks
CAIRO, Feb 5, 2006 (AFP) - Any passengers who managed to scramble off the stricken Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 with lifevests would have had to battle dangerous Red Sea sharks as well as cold waters and strong currents, local divers said.
"There's everything in the Red Sea but I wouldn't like to meet a tiger shark or an oceanic white-tipped shark," said Jonathan Mellor from the Aplha Red Sea diving centre in Safaga, the doomed ferry's port of destination in Egypt.
Almost three days after the ageing vessel sank, close to 1,000 out of the 1,415 people on board were still missing or dead and less than 100 bodies had been recovered by medical teams on the Egyptian shores.
For those who found a place on one of the liferafts, the target was to hang on long enough to be spotted by a helicopter or ship involved in the search and rescue operations.
But the chances of survival were slimmer for those who jumped off the Al-Salam with only a life vest. Water temperatures hover around 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.
So far less than 400 people were confirmed to have been pulled out of the Red Sea, a diving paradise of corals and exotic fish very popular with professionals as well as with hundreds of thousands of tourists.
Mohammed Sharaf Mustapha, a Cairo teacher who works in Saudi Arabia, was well aware of the multi-fanged danger below him when his lifeboat waited for help in the night.
"In the water we were frozen, it felt less than zero... There was too much screaming and crying, people left for hours in the water. They will be looking for the bodies for weeks. Maybe the sharks ate them," he told AFP.
A doctor at Hurghada hospital, north of Safaga, admitted that the presence of sharks was one of the many elements harming the chances of finding more survivors.
"The rescue operation is continuing but maybe most of them are at the bottom of the sea now. It's like the film Titanic and the sea is full of sharks," Abdel Halim said.
No less than 300 different types of sharks have been listed in the Red Sea, a region of unmatched marine diversity.
"You will find the most dangerous -- such as the white-tipped, the tiger or the hammerhead who can be aggressive when he's looking for food -- beyond the immediate vicinity of the shores, where the survivors are," Mellor said.
The white-tipped shark, which can measure up to three metres (10 feet), "doesn't attack head on but he circles around his prey... and in this case you'd better not be already wounded," said the Briton, who has lived in the region for six years.
The so-called bull dog shark and the mako shark -- renowned for his ability to leap out of the water -- are also considered potentially dangerous, while the feared white shark is also an occasional Red Sea visitor.
Isabelle Derubinat, another professional diver from Belgium, said that most shark species present in the Red Sea are harmless "but the possibility that survivors may have fallen prey to sharks certainly cannot be ruled out."
Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch, a renowned shark specialist and photographer agreed that the number of large reef sharks posed a threat.
The US-based International Shark Attack File said only 61 confirmed unprovoked attacks were reported in 2004 across the world, seven of them deadly.
February 6th, 2006, 01:59 PM
February 6th, 2006, 03:44 PM
Anger boils over Egypt ferry tragedy
SAFAGA, Egypt, Feb 6, 2006 (AFP) - A mob of Egyptians ransacked Monday the offices of the owners of a ferry that sank in the Red Sea as anger over the fate of relatives missing after one of the worst maritime disasters in living memory boiled over into violence.
Hopes of finding more survivors were fading fast four days after the 36-year-old ferry sank on a crossing from Saudi Arabia on Friday, amid growing controversy over the safety of the vessel, the actions of the crew and the slow start to the rescue operation.
According to the company that owned the doomed Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, 426 people have been pulled from the sea, leaving close to 1,000 dead or missing.
"Finally we've had good news, another 37 were found last night at 11:00 pm (2100 GMT)," said Khaled Helmi, head of operations at the Al-Salam Maritime Transport Company. "We should not lose all hope, the waters are not so cold."
But doctors said they did not expect many more survivors to be found.
In Safaga, the doomed ship's destination in southeastern Egypt, an angry mob went on the rampage, ransacking Al-Salam offices and clashing with police, infuriated by the lack of information over the fate of their relatives.
Survivors and relatives have blamed Al-Salam for using a ship that did not comply with safety standards and accused the crew of ignoring a fire that broke out on board when there was still time to turn back to Saudi Arabia.
Questions are also being asked in the Egyptian press and parliament about why the rescue and search operations started only seven hours after the ship sank.
The protestors ransacked the Safaga offices of a tour operator selling ferry tickets and broke into the offices of the shipping company in an adjacent building.
"Then they threw everything they could find out the window and set fire to the place," witness Mustafa Mahmud told AFP.
Several survivors have accused the ship's captain Omar Sayed of refusing to acknowledge the risk posed by the fire and charged that the two hours during the blaze raged would have given the ship enough time to return to shore.
Egyptian press reports alleged that one of the company's other ships was informed that the Al-Salam had encountered difficulties but did not respond.
But the ship's owners defended the record of the vessel and its crew, saying they met all international standards.
Official sources said 190 bodies have been recovered so far. An AFP reporter in the resort of Hurghada, further north, said rows broke out at the hospital between families claiming the same bodies, often bloated beyond recognition.
"It's normal there would be disputes about the identity because after some time in the sea, it's like the face has come off," a hospital official said.
He said the unidentified and disputed bodies were being sent to the central morgue in Cairo for DNA testing.
Police at barricades outside Hurghada hospital held up photographs of the dead as medics read out the names of identified bodies that families can take away for burial.
The 36-year-old ferry, which was driven out of its old European trading route when safety standards were upgraded a few years ago, was carrying 1,415 people between the Saudi port of Duba and Safaga when it sank.
The passengers were mainly Egyptians returning from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia or jobs in Gulf countries. Many were bringing months if not years worth of savings back to their families.
"I saw a couple embracing their baby before jumping in the water. They didn't know how to swim," said survivor Saud Habib el-Hotebi, a Saudi national "I saw women, children... all these people are dead."
Cairo teacher Mohammed Sharaf Mustafa recounted scenes of chaos when the ship suddenly capsized and sank.
"Did you see Titanic? It was exactly like that, people trying to hold on, falling, smashing their heads, women and children, on each other, on the metal, on the glass. Everyone screaming."
According to medical sources, among the survivors was six-year-old Mohammed Ahmed Hassan, whose entire family is believed to have perished in the disaster.
The Italian classification society that inspected the ship, Registro Italiano Navale (RINA), said its seaworthiness had been checked twice last year.
RINA is facing prosecution in France for allegedly failing to carry out proper checks on the Maltese-flagged tanker Erika which broke up off the coast of France six years ago.
A delegation of Muslim clerics travelled to Safaga to offer support and assistance to bereaved families and those still waiting to hear from their missing relatives.
"Those responsible for this tragedy should be sued," Ahmed Turki, the imam of Cairo's Al-Nur mosque, told AFP.
February 6th, 2006, 04:16 PM
I had thought the Empress of Ireland disaster was deadlier tham the Titanic story?
February 8th, 2006, 01:58 AM
Captain refused to help sinking Red Sea ferry
CAIRO, Feb 7, 2006 (AFP) - The captain of a Red Sea ferry has admitted he steered clear of a doomed ship that sank between Saudi Arabia and Egypt with the loss of about 1,000 lives to avoid a "second catastrophe".
"I took the decision not to turn around to protect the lives of the 1,800 passengers on board the Saint Catherine" which was headed for the Saudi port of Duba, Salah Jomaa told Tuesday's edition of Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram.
The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, which like the Saint Catherine belonged to the Al-Salam shipping company, sank en route from Duba to the Egyptian port of Safaga last week after an onboard fire, in one of the worst maritime disasters in living memory.
Jomaa said turning to aid the stricken vessel could have sunk his own vessel, "especially as the weather conditions were bad and the waves high".
Al-Salam had radioed the Saint Catherine to ask whether the captain could turn back and mount a rescue effort for the Boccaccio 98, which was carrying 1,400 people when it sank.
"I replied in the negative and they informed me during the course of the conversation that company director Mamdouh Ismail was asking me to continue on my course to avoid a second catastrophe," said Jomaa.
The captain said he alerted all other vessels in the area to come to the rescue of survivors.
Maritime authorities in Egypt have decided to suspend Jomaa, who said the decision was taken because of a row he had with a member of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the tragedy.
The Safaga offices of the owners of the ferry were ransacked Monday as anger over the fate of missing loved-ones boiled over into violence.
According to the company, 426 survivors have been pulled from the sea, leaving close to 1,000 dead or missing. But government spokesman Magdi Radi told reporters that the number of survivors so far stood at 388.
The distraught families of victims have started to leave Safaga, where an estimated 500 members remained on Tuesday compared to between 2,000 and 3,000 after the disaster struck, said an AFP correspondent in the port city.
The passengers on the ferry were mainly Egyptians returning from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia or jobs in Gulf countries. Many were bringing months if not years worth of savings back to their families.
Their families have been camping out in the hope of receiving news of their relatives' fate, but most have had to return to their homes and jobs, in many cases hundreds of kilometres (miles) away.
After three days of high emotions during which the gates of the port were often under siege, the numbers of police reinforcements have also eased.
Saudi authorities said they had recovered a further 94 bodies Tuesday, bringing the total found so far by the Saudi navy and coastguard to 226.
The sinking of the 36-year-old ferry has triggered controversy over the safety of the vessel, the actions of the crew and the slow launch of the rescue operation.
Survivors and relatives have blamed Al-Salam for using a ship that did not comply with safety standards and accused the crew of ignoring a fire that broke out on board when there was still time to turn back to Saudi Arabia.
Questions are also being asked in the press and parliament about why the search and rescue operations started only seven hours after the ship sank.
February 8th, 2006, 01:59 AM
I had thought the Empress of Ireland disaster was deadlier tham the Titanic story?
Empress of Ireland - 90th Anniversary Memorial Service
18 May 2004
TORONTO, May 18 /CNW/ - The sinking of the Empress of Ireland on May 29th 1914 was one of the worst maritime disasters in Canadian history and certainly the greatest tragedy in the whole history of The Salvation Army. The loss of life in this tragedy surpassed the Lusitania and the Titanic with the drowning of 1,012 people.
On May 30th The Salvation Army will hold its annual memorial service at 3:00 P.M. at Mount Pleasant Cemetery at the historical memorial monument marking the graves of some of the perished Salvationists. If weather is inclement then the service will be moved indoors to The Salvation Army College For Officer Training at 2130 Bayview Avenue in the Chapel. The guest speaker for this service will be Major Miriam Evenden.
There were about 200 Salvationists on board going to an International Congress in London, England. The ship carried the top leadership of the Canada and Bermuda Territory as well as its representative Canadian Staff Band and many of them perished. The total loss for The Salvation Army was 167 lives.
February 9th, 2006, 05:52 AM
Officials: Ferry Rescue Delayed 12 Hours
By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD
8 February 2006
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - It took about 12 hours for a rescue vessel to reach the first group of survivors from the Red Sea ferry disaster, officials said Wednesday, raising further questions on the handling of the sinking.
The revelation from Transport Minister Mohammed Mansour into the accident that claimed some 1,000 lives, followed word that the ferry's owner didn't notify authorities until hours after the ship was lost.
The Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 sank around 2 a.m. Friday after a fire broke out in a vehicle in its parking bay early in its journey from the Saudi port of Dubah to the Egyptian port of Safaga. It went down about 60 miles off the Egyptian coast.
Mansour told reporters Wednesday that "efforts to rescue people started at afternoon, about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m."
The first vessel to pick up survivors was the Elnora, a ship owned by the same company that owned the Al-Salaam 98. It rescued about 125 passengers.
An Egyptian government helicopter and destroyer headed to the site from Safaga, but government rescue ships arrived sometime after the Elnora, Mansour said.
The minister refused to give specifics on the times that government rescue ships departed or arrived at the scene of the accident. "Let's not talk about time, time is not important," he told reporters.
Egypt's presidential spokesman said Tuesday the owners of the Red Sea ferry, the Al-Salaam Maritime Transport Company, did not inform the government of the disaster for nearly six hours.
The fire broke out in the ferry -- which was carrying around 1,400 people, mostly Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf -- when it was about 30 miles into its 120 mile journey.
According to survivors the ship's captain was told by the crew that the fire was contained and he continued the run for the Egyptian coast.
Strong winds that night apparently fanned the embers of the blaze, which then grew out of control. As the ship struggled in the high winds and waves, it began to list.
That danger was compounded by water sloshing in the hold from the firefighting effort. The ship eventually rolled over and sank.
February 11th, 2006, 03:13 AM
IMO to send technical team to investigate ferry disaster
10 February 2006
Technical assistance and a number of experts are to be provided by the International Maritime Organization to help investigate the circumstances of the loss last week of the Panamanian flag ferry Al Salam Boccaccio 98 in which more than 1,000 people are believed to have died, writes Michael Grey.
IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos returned to London from Egypt yesterday. In meetings with the Egyptian Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, he had conveyed the sympathy and solidarity of the IMO, along with strong moral support to the relatives of the victims.
While a joint casualty investigation has been launched under the leadership of Egypt, with the assistance of the Panamanian flag state, which has already dispatched two investigators to Egypt, Mr Mitropoulos stressed the importance of a thorough, prompt and transparent inquiry and offered the assistance of IMO technical experts to help in this respect.
Terms of reference are being finalised at the IMO for the appointment of accident inspector Mike Travis from the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Jean-Charles Leclaire from the French marine investigation department.
Mr Travis has special expertise in the interpretation of Vessel Data Recorders, while Mr Leclaire participated in the inquiry into the loss of the Senegalese ferry Joola with huge loss of life in 2002.
The Egyptian government has also welcomed technical support from the IMO in the development of crisis management and emergency systems, and the former chairman of the IMO Marine Safety Committee Tom Allan, who recently retired from the UK Marine Safety Agency as the UK’s permanent IMO representative, will undertake this role.
During his visit to Egypt, Mr Mitropoulos also paid tribute to those involved in the search and rescue operations following the disaster, and expressed his condolences to the bereaved.
February 12th, 2006, 07:29 AM
Egyptian president suggests amending law to speed benefits for families of sunken ferry victims
11 February 2006
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday asked his Cabinet to modify the personal status law so the families of the victims of disasters such as last week's ferry sinking can more quickly receive death certificates and government aid.
Mubarak's measure was aimed at easing the suffering of families who have loudly condemned government negligence in the wake of the ferry disaster, which claimed nearly 1,000 lives.
Presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said the suggested amendment to the personal status law would reduce the time from one year to 15 days to receive death certificates of people missing from airplane or ship accidents.
Families cannot collect insurance money or emergency financial aid until they have death certificates.
Mubarak has pledged emergency financial aid of 30,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$5,230; euro4,390) for the victims' families.
The Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 sank Feb. 3 after a fire broke out on its journey from the Saudi port of Dubah to the Egyptian port of Safaga. It was carrying around 1,400 people, mostly Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
Grieving family members waited for hours at the Safaga port, desperate for information, and clashed angrily with police when news was slow to come. They complained of government negligence and demanded better treatment and their rights as victims.
February 17th, 2006, 04:06 PM
Wreck of sunken ferry located in the Red Sea
17 February 2006
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A team of experts has located the ferry that sank this month in the Red Sea, killing about 1,000 people, a Transportation Ministry spokesman said on Friday.
Mohammed Amin said the team, which includes experts from France and Britain, found the Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 on Thursday about 56 miles from the Egyptian port of Safaga at a depth of about 800 meters (2,625 feet).
The team will use a robot in an attempt to recover the data recorder -- equivalent to the black box on an airplane -- that could explain what caused the tragedy, Amin said.
A ship carrying the robot is headed to the scene, Amin told The Associated Press. It was expected to be over the sunken ferry by Saturday night.
The VDR can provide information such as the exact route and wind direction to "reveal the secrets and the circumstances" of the sinking, Amin said.
Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 was carrying about 1,400 people when it sank earlier this month after a fire broke out on its journey from Saudi Arabia to Safaga.
Among the 1,000 people who drowned. Many of the 1,000 people who drowned were Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf.
February 22nd, 2006, 05:23 AM
British experts to probe doomed Egyptian ferry's black box
LONDON, Feb 21, 2006 (AFP) - British experts are to analyse the "black box" of the Egyptian ferry Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, which sank earlier this month killing more than 1,000, they announced on Tuesday.
But they said it was too early to tell how long it would take to find any clues from the device as to why the tragedy occurred.
The black box, located in the Red Sea with the help of a robotic submersible, is to be examined by Marine Accident Investigation Branch, a separate arm of Britain's Department for Transport.
The body, based in Southampton, on England's south coast, will be assisted by a United Nations offshoot, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which has been helping the Egyptian authorities since the February 3 tragedy.
Asked when the investigation would start and how long it would last, Lee Adamson, public information officer at the IMO's London office, told AFP: "It's too early to tell."
According to the IMO, passenger ships and other non-passenger vessels weighing upwards of 3,000 gross tonnage built on or after July 1, 2002, are required by international convention to carry voyage data recorders (VDRs).
Like those carried on aircraft, they allow investigators to review procedures and instructions in the moments before an incident and help identify any possible causes of an accident.
VDRs record a range of data from the ship's electronic equipment, including information about hull openings, watertight doors, fire door status and any alarms that may be sounded while at sea.
Other information to be recorded includes date and time (in Coordinated Universal Time or GMT), the ship's position, speed (either over water or ground), wind speed and heading.
Guidelines require VDRs to record any audio from the ship's control room on the bridge, any VHF communications and information from the vessel's electronic equipment.
This includes conversations at places such as radar displays and chart tables and, where possible, intercom, public address announcements and alarms on the bridge.
February 22nd, 2006, 05:36 AM
This was way worse then the Empress of Ireland. The 1917 Halifax explosion.
March 1st, 2006, 05:37 PM
Suez tanker spill damage at 12 million dollars: official
CAIRO, March 1, 2006 (AFP) - An oil spill caused by a leaking tanker in the Suez Canal has caused at least 72 million pounds (12 million dollars) in environmental damage, Egypt's environment minister said Wednesday.
The Liberian-flagged Grigoroussa 1 on Tuesday leaked 3,000 tons of heavy fuel into the canal, also affecting nearby tourist resorts and residents, Maged George told the official MENA news agency.
While too early to assess the overall impact on local residents and businesses, George said that canal authorities have already received 1,320 complaints relating to the spill.
Officials said on Tuesday that the slick had spread some 30-kilometres (18 miles).
The tanker, which was headed south from the Mediterranean late on Sunday, broke down and drifted into a quay. About 3,000 of the 58,000 tons of its heavy fuel cargo leaked into the canal, while the rest was safely pumped out.
Tugs rescued the stricken vessel so as not to block traffic through the canal, which is Egypt's third largest source of revenue. A day's closure costs an estimated income loss of seven million dollars.
March 2nd, 2006, 05:13 PM
link to more Lake George / Ethan Allen disaster information (http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/99999999/NEWS06/60116001&theme=ETHANALLEN012006&template=theme)
This is not about a 'sea' disaster, per se, but Lake George in northern New York State is quite large and busy; and the death toll was no less horrific for the differential in the size of that body of water -- for once the fecklessly modified and managed vessel tipped over, the shore may as well have been 1,000 miles distant.
Lake George Map (http://www.expedia.com/pub/agent.dll?qscr=htwv&from=m&stat=1&khst=1&locn=Lake+George+New+York+United+States&ploc=Lake+George+New+York+United+States&fmap=1&mdpcid=21187-1.ExpediaGEOMaps|%20Missing|%20freesearch&eapid=21187-1&&zz=1141316308016&)
March 3rd, 2006, 08:31 PM
Austrian Crews Scramble To Contain Oil Slick On Danube
3 March 2006
VIENNA (AP)--Cleanup crews in northern Austria Friday were scrambling to contain an oil slick on the Danube river and determine the cause.
Crews of firefighters have set up barriers to stop the 30-kilometer blanket of oil from spreading, said Christian Milota, spokesman for Lower Austrian environment official Josef Plank. The oil was detected this morning, he said.
"The investigation into what caused the slick hasn't yielded any results," Plank said.
Officials were exploring whether the oil leaked from a ship and haven't ruled out vandalism, the Austrian broadcaster ORF said.
The slick is situated between the Upper Austrian town of Sarmingstein and Melk in Lower Austria, according to ORF.
To facilitate the cleanup, parts of the Danube were closed off to ships, the Austria Press Agency said.
Officials said it was too early to tell what, if any, environmental damage the slick has caused.
March 5th, 2006, 05:28 PM
Kuwait donates US$1 million to help families of victims of Egyptian ferry that sank in Red Sea
5 March 2006
KUWAIT CITY (AP) - Kuwait will donate US$1 million to help families of victims on an Egyptian ferry that sank in the Red Sea last month.
The country's new emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, ordered the donation, according to an announcement Sunday from the Cabinet.
The aid was "an expression of sympathy by the Kuwaiti people to the victims of this catastrophe and an effort to ease their suffering," the announcement said.
More than 1,000 people died when the Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98 sank on Feb. 3 after a fire broke out during its journey from Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian port of Safaga. It was carrying 1,400 people.
Many of the passengers were Egyptian workers returning from jobs in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
The Egyptian government has sought help from international experts in investigating the sinking.
March 6th, 2006, 05:16 PM
Freighter ship sinks near Estonia in Gulf of Finland
TALLINN, March 6, 2006 (AFP) - A freighter ship has sunk off the coast of Estonia after colliding with another vessel in the frozen Gulf of Finland, but all 14 crew members were rescued, the Estonian Maritime Department said Monday.
The Runner 4, sailing under the flag of the Dominican Republic, crashed into Russian freighter, the Svyatoi Apostel Andrey, Sunday night, when the two ships were 22 nautical miles off the Estonian coast, near Vaindloo Island in the Gulf of Finland, the department said.
"Runner 4 stopped after the ice channel through which the ships were moving became blocked," the department said in a statement.
"The Svyatoi Apostel Andrey could not stop and crashed into the Runner 4, whose engine room sustained serious damage."
The Runner 4, which was loaded with a cargo of aluminium, sank three minutes after the 14 Russian crew members had been rescued by a Russian ice-breaker which was leading the ship through the ice channel, the department said.
The vessels were moving westward in convoy from the Russian port of Saint Petersburg.
The Estonian border guard will inspect the scene of the accident to determine whether a possible fuel leak from the sunken ship could pose an environmental hazard.
March 14th, 2006, 01:14 AM
New oil slick spotted off Estonia
TALLINN, March 13, 2006 (AFP) - A major oil slick, which could contain some 40 tonnes of fuel, has been detected off the coast of Estonia, one week after a cargo vessel sank in the Baltic Sea, officials said Monday.
"We have detected a kilometre-long oil slick 4.6 kilometres (2.8 miles) off the Parispea peninsula", on Estonia's northern coast, the border guard said in a statement.
"Although the pollution is 42 kilometres away from the place where the Runner 4 freighter sank, we have reason to believe the oil slick originates from that vessel," border guard spokeswoman Helena Loorents said.
A lifeboat, two rescue rafts and an emergency buoy from the Runner 4 -- a Dominican Republic-flagged cargo vessel which sank after a collision with another vessel in the frozen Gulf of Finland -- have been recovered near the oil slick.
"An underwater video showed a large crack in the middle part of the ship which proves the story that the contents of one of its fuel tanks has risen to the surface of the sea," Toomas Liidja, a senior inspector with the Environmental Inspectorate, told the Postimees daily.
Up to 40 tonnes of heavy fuel oil may have spilled into the sea, he said.
Border guard officials said the slick was probably smaller that Liidja's estimate.
"Our current estimates show that the slick is not larger than three or four tonnes," Silver Vahtra, head of the border guard's marine pollution department, told reporters.
"But it's very hard to realize the full extent of the pollution as the sea is covered with ice and snow," he said.
"We can presently detect the pollution only in places where there are huge cracks in the ice but we don't know what is under the frozen cover."
The Runner 4, which was carrying a cargo of aluminium, had 102 tonnes of heavy fuel, 35 tonnes of light fuel oil and 600 liters of lubricant oil in its tanks when it sank.
The slick was the second major maritime pollution incident in the Baltic Sea off Estonia since the start of the year.
Ornithologists have estimated that up to 35,000 sea birds may have been killed by an oil slick detected at the end of January, the cause of which still remains unknown.
March 16th, 2006, 02:18 AM
Boat Capsizes in China, Killing 27
15 March 2006
BEIJING (AP) - A boat carrying people home from a fair capsized while crossing a river in southwest China Wednesday, leaving at least 27 dead, the government said.
Seven people were rescued but officials were unsure how many people were on board when the vessel went down in Sichuan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The agency said that 27 bodies recovered.
Xinhua said the boat was privately owned by a local farmer, who illegally used it to ferry passengers across the river. The boat was registered to carry only two passengers at a time.
The cause of the accident was under investigation.
March 20th, 2006, 05:26 AM
Chinese cargo ship sinks off South Korea, leaving 12 dead or missing
19 March 2006
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - A Chinese cargo ship sank off South Korea's west coast after colliding with an anchored freighter Monday, leaving at least three crew members dead of the Chinese ship dead and nine others missing, the coast guard said.
The 2,972-ton Xinhai7 was entering the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, when it slammed into the 3,980-ton Korea Gas around 4 a.m. (1900 GMT Sunday), a coast guard statement said.
The Chinese vessel, which was carrying iron ore, sank immediately. A nearby vessel rescued five of the 17 crew members, while three were found dead and the nine others remained missing, the coast guard said.
One helicopter and 29 boats were searching the area for the missing, it said.
The South Korean cargo ship sustained minor damage and all its crew were safe, the coast guard said.
"The sunken vessel is presumed to have not recognized the anchored vessel and collided with it," it said.
March 23rd, 2006, 04:59 AM
Canada Ferry Sinking : RCMP takes over search for 2 missing ferry passengers
Last Updated Wed, 22 Mar 2006 15:47:33 EST
BC Ferries has called off its search for two passengers of a ferry that sank early Wednesday in the choppy waters off the coast of British Columbia, handing the effort over to the RCMP.
The RCMP began treating the disappearance of Shirley Rossette and Gerald Foisey as a missing persons case late in the afternoon. The Canadian Coast Guard had been trying to track down their whereabouts.
Mark Stefanson, a spokesman for the ferry company, said there were a number of reports from passengers who said they saw Rossette and Foisey talking to people in Hartley Bay, where those aboard the Queen of the North ferry were taken after it sank.
The ferry corporation said the two are not among the 99 people on their way back to Prince Rupert, or who were airlifted to hospital Wednesday morning.
Lifeboats used by passengers to flee the sinking ferry sit on the deck of a coast guard vessel on Wednesday as it leaves Hartley Bay, B.C. (CP Photo/Richard Lam)
"We're trying to pin down where they are," Stefanson said, confirming that the two had been on the ferry.
Stefanson said the RCMP is trying to determine whether the two got a ride from a fisherman to Prince Rupert or decided to stay in Hartley Bay.
Rossette and Foisey have not been officially accounted for since the overnight sinking of the Queen of the North about 135 kilometres south of Prince Rupert.
Earlier, the ferry's operator reported 99 passengers and crew members were rescued after the Queen of the North hit a rock shortly before 1 a.m. PST (4 a.m. EST). The vessel reportedly began to tip to one side before it sank off Gil Island in Wright Sound.
Eleven people were flown by helicopter to a Prince Rupert hospital and treated for minor injuries.
The ship is completely submerged.
BC Ferries president David Hahn wouldn't speculate on what caused the accident.
"I think something went catastrophically wrong," he said. "We'll have to dig through all the evidence. We don't want to draw any quick conclusions."
Rescue ships carried survivors to Hartley Bay, an isolated community of about 200 people south of Prince Rupert.
The passengers were being transported to Prince Rupert by the coast guard.
'All of a sudden all the lights went out'
The Queen of the North was travelling south from Prince Rupert, B.C., when it hit a rock early Wednesday morning.
Many passengers were asleep when the incident occurred about five hours into a 15-hour trip from Prince Rupert south to Port Hardy.
"We were in bed. I thought we were docking or something like that," said Jill Lawrence. "It didn't really seem like it was too much of a bump to me.
"The next thing you know, when I looked down, everything was all over the floor. Then we heard the alarm go, so we jumped out of bed and got out."
It took about an hour for the ferry to sink, giving passengers time to scramble into lifeboats in the rough waters, the coast guard spokeswoman said.
"All of a sudden, all the lights went out on the boat and somebody yelled and said, 'Somebody put a spotlight on it,'" said passenger Ryan MacDonald.
"And at that time, the nose of the boat was sticking straight up in the air and then it just went straight down and disappeared. It's something you'll never forget."
Fishing boats from nearby communities, a helicopter and several coast guard vessels responded to the distress call.
Queen of the North travels between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy in 2005. The vessel was making the 15-hour trip between the two cities when it went down. (Andrew Krueger/AP Photo)
Company rejects charge that ferry too big for area
About 80 men from Hartley Bay went out in their boats after someone picked up the ship's emergency call over the radio.
The 125-metre-long ship, which can hold up to 700 people and 115 cars, is one of the larger ferries in the provincially owned company's fleet.
Hahn flatly rejected the notion that the ferry may have been too large to navigate those particular waters.
"Not at all. Not even a remote chance. It's not that large compared to cruise ships. It's sailed [the area] many many times over many, many years."
The Queen of the North was about 135 kilometres south of Prince Rupert when it sank.
The company has suspended service on the route, and the Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Second accident in past year
BC Ferries made headlines in 2005 when a large passenger ferry ran aground near Vancouver.
Last June 30, a BC Ferries vessel lost power while docking and smashed into a marina in Horseshoe Bay, north of Vancouver. No one was injured but 22 pleasure boats were damaged or destroyed.
Investigators blamed the incident on a problem with the ship's clutch.
Despite the two accidents in less than a year, Hahn says he's is confident in the fleet.
"In both cases, nobody really got hurt badly and no one got killed. I think it says that the crew is extremely well trained," he said. "I still think it's an incredibly safe system."
March 23rd, 2006, 11:54 AM
wow this is a nice, happy & uplifting thread
March 23rd, 2006, 08:43 PM
127 Feared Dead in Cameroon Ferry Sinking
By EMMANUEL TUMANJONG
23 March 2006
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) - A ferry carrying 150 passengers sank off the coast of Cameroon, and 23 people were rescued, officials said Thursday. The rest are feared dead. Emergency workers and local fishermen searched for survivors Thursday.
The boat was bound for Gabon from a town in Nigeria on Cameroon's border. Fishermen found bodies floating Wednesday off the port town of Kribi, said top regional official Gregoire Mvombo.
He cited survivors as saying 150 people from Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast were onboard. The cause of the accident was not immediately known.
Many ferry masters in Africa pack passengers aboard old or poorly maintained ships, and few ferries keep proper passenger manifests. Because the continent is plagued by poor road and rail systems, goods are transported to market by river or ocean routes.
In September 2002, the MS Joola ferry capsized off the coast of Senegal, killing 1,863 people -- more than were on the Titanic.
March 25th, 2006, 07:50 AM
Ferry loss threatens northern B.C. coastal economy
24 March 2006
PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia (AP) - Before the Queen of the North ferry sank in Wright Sound on Wednesday, it was the "main driver" of the economy in isolated coastal communities with hundreds of residents, and its loss could be devastating, local officials say.
The ferry, carrying 101 passengers and crew, hit a rock early Wednesday and sank about an hour later, after those aboard took to life rafts in choppy seas and bone-chilling 45 mph winds. Two people are missing and presumed drowned.
On Friday, attention began to turn to the impact of the sinking on the northern British Columbia coast.
Towns and villages there and in the Queen Charlotte Islands relied on the 409-foot ferry to provide much more than a scenic ride for tourists on regular runs between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
Many communities lack roads and depended mainly on ferry service for food and general cargo. In most cases, the only alternatives are float planes and barges.
"For the people on the Queen Charlotte Islands, it's their only conduit to the mainland for groceries, medical supplies and goods and services," said Steve Smith, general manager of the Crest Hotel in Prince Rupert and chairman of a regional ferry advisory committee. "A lot of stuff moves on the water."
Acting Mayor Tony Briglio told reporters his counterpart in Masset asked him to pass on the word that the town is out of milk.
"We're hoping there's going to be a quick resolve in terms of getting some replacement vessel here," Briglio said.
Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski has offered to allow the state ferry Matanuska to stop in Prince Rupert on its regular weekly runs between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Bellingham, Wash.
The Matanuska can carry 499 passengers and 88 vehicles, compared with 700 passengers and 115 for the Queen of the North, which covered a 280-mile route.
In Shearwater, Doug Sharkey, retired and a member of the local chamber of commerce, said 90 percent of the food for that part of the coast comes by ferry, as well as all building materials and manufactured goods.
For the immediate future, though, Sharkey said residents of the isolated coastal communities are in no danger of being without supplies.
"Nobody lives here without a stockpile of food," said Sharkey.
The "biggest concern is not what happens in the short term but medium term," said Trevor Jarvis, village administrator in Masset. "What's going to happen in the summer? We've had a couple of good tourism years here in Masset, and I'd hate to see that drop."
There were reports of hurried purchasing of goods in the Queen Charlottes, although British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and B.C. Ferries President David Hahn promised renewed shipments as soon as possible.
"In terms of storage, there may not be ferry service, but there will be supply service to be there for people, whether it's produce, milk, or whatever ... and we'll work with B.C. Ferries to make sure it happens," Campbell said.
Summer ferry service remains less clear, however. Hahn said the Queen of Prince Rupert, now undergoing a refit, was scheduled to remain in drydock until May 12 but will be rushed back into service by late next week.
"Normal levels would be having two ships in the middle of the summer," said Hahn. "I think we've got some hard work to do in finding alternate means."
On the Net:
B.C. Ferries: http://www.bcferries.com/
March 25th, 2006, 07:30 PM
NYC Pays $8.9M to Man Hurt in Ferry Crash
By TOM HAYS
25 March 2006
NEW YORK (AP) - The city has agreed to pay nearly $9 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a former waiter and avid hiker who lost his legs in a 2003 ferry crash, lawyers said Friday.
The payout for Paul Esposito was by far the largest so far in the tragedy that killed 11 passengers and injured dozens of others. Ninety-nine of the 190 claims against the city have been settled for a total of $3.6 million, city officials said.
Esposito's attorney, Derek Sells, said the settlement was fair, given that his client's injuries "forever altered the way he can live his life."
In a statement, one of the city's top attorneys, Lawrence Kahn, confirmed that the city agreed to pay $8,986,852.
Esposito was scheduled to receive monthly payments for the next 50 years to cover medical costs and living expenses. With interest, he could collect an estimated $25.6 million during that period, Sells said.
Esposito had sued for $300 million in damages in 2003, alleging that the crew of the Andrew J. Barberi and city officials "basically left him to die" after the ferry drifted off course and slammed full-speed into a concrete pier on Staten Island on Oct. 15, 2003.
As he lay immobilized and bleeding profusely, the crew and city employees did not assist him, he alleged. A British nurse tied a belt around his limbs above the knee, stemming the blood flow. His legs were later amputated.
The former ferry captain received 18 months in prison for passing out at the helm before the crash, and the city's former ferry director got one year and a day for failing to enforce a rule requiring ferries be operated by two pilots whenever docking.
March 25th, 2006, 07:37 PM
well this is an inetersting thread filled with uplifting facts :(
March 31st, 2006, 08:24 PM
Bahrain Cruise Boat Capsized After Sudden Turn - Survivor
31 March 2006
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP)--A cruise boat made a sudden turn and was crowded with partygoers when it capsized in calm Gulf waters only a few hundred yards off the Bahrain coast, a survivor said.
At least 57 people drowned, including 10 from South Africa-based Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd. (MUR.JO). Officials said 67 people were rescued.
The passengers were celebrating the completion of the structure of Manama's World Trade Center in a party organized by several corporations, India's ambassador to Bahrain, Balkrishna Setty, told the AP.
Bahrain television quoted the owners as saying the boat, an Arab dhow with high sides, was overloaded when it left port and capsized when most of its 137 passengers moved to one side.
Murray & Roberts said in a statement that 25 members of its WTC-project team was on board the boat. Chief Executive Brian Bruce, in a statement, said of the 10 that died, four are South African, three British, one Pakistani and two Indian. The shell of the two-tower WTC-complex dominates Manama's waterfront.
"We are deeply shocked by this tragedy. Our sympathy and condolences go out to all those who have been affected," Bruce said.
U.S. Navy helicopters and divers stationed in Bahrain with the 5th Fleet ended their search for survivors early Friday after Bahrain authorities said they no longer were needed, a Navy spokesman, Cmdr. Jeff Breslau, told The Associated Press.
Sixty-seven people were rescued but 13 remained missing from the ship, called the al-Dana, Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Tarik al-Hassan said Friday. Some of the missing might have tried to swim ashore since the boat overturned less than a mile off the coast, he added.
"God willing, there will be other survivors," he said.
One of the survivors was an unidentified American woman working for the Navy base.
Al-Hassan declined to give a cause for the accident, saying there might be several factors. The ship's captain, a foreigner, survived and was being interrogated.
The victims included at least 17 Indians and 13 Britons, officials said.
The official Bahrain News Agency said the al-Dana was on an evening cruise that was to last several hours. Television footage showed the boat capsized but not sunk, with rescue workers walking on its brown hull.
The Al-Dana was a modern version of the traditional dhow sailboat common throughout the Persian Gulf. Made of wood and fiberglass, it was powered by motor. Because it had no sail, it had room for dining and dancing during harbor cruises and jaunts to nearby islands.
Television stations showed what they called a file photo of the al-Dana, which appeared to be 60-70 feet long with two decks.
The Indian embassy said the boat was owned and operated by a Bahraini company, Al Kobaisi Travel and Tours.
Interior Minister Sheik Al Kahlifa said most of the passengers were employees of a Bahrain-based company.
"Things were going all right, people were dancing, people were having fun, but the boat was very crowded," Khalil Mirza, a Bahraini survivor, told the AP.
The boat then listed as it made a left turn soon after leaving the harbor, he said.
"People were scared in the water. They were fighting with each other and screaming," he said.
Mirza said he made a distress call using his cell phone. Bahrain's coast guard confirmed that a survivor made the distress call using a mobile phone.
Prime Minister Sheik Khalifah bin Salman Al Khalifah told Bahraini TV he directed the Interior Ministry to investigate if the ship was seaworthy, had a license to operate cruises and had followed safety regulations.
Rescue teams brought bodies covered with white sheets to shore, and hospital workers hurried them to waiting ambulances. Scores of officials and relatives waited on the dock watching small rescue boats with flashing blue lights bring more bodies and survivors.
Television footage showed survivors, appearing to be in shock and with their hair still wet, squatting on the floor of a hospital. Many of them covered themselves with blankets. One male survivor was shown being treated for cuts to the head.
Survivors, some with blood streaming down their faces, hugged each other. Several wept uncontrollably as friends and relatives tried to calm them. Some survivors needed assistance as they disembarked from a rescue boat that brought them to shore.
The dead included 17 Indians, 13 British citizens and nationals of Pakistan, South Africa, the Philippines, Singapore, Germany and Ireland, al-Hassan said. Eleven had not been identified.
Bahrain is an oil-exporting and refining archipelago of 688,000 off the coast of Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Navy has had a presence there for more than 50 years.
The capsizing of the ship came about two months after an Egyptian ferry sank in the Red Sea, killing about 1,000 people. The vessel was en route from the Saudi port of Dubah to the Egyptian port of Safaga when it went down before dawn about 60 miles off the Egyptian coast.
April 1st, 2006, 03:12 PM
Surprised below hasn't been posted. Very expensive firework display:
April 1st, 2006, 05:35 PM
^ When did that occur and where?
Bahrain seeks answers after boat tragedy
MANAMA, April 1, 2006 (AFP) - Bahrain sought Saturday to explain how a leisure boat packed with partying foreigners capsized in calm seas with the loss of 57 lives, amid charges that massive overloading was to blame.
Police have been interrogating the Indian captain of the boat which sank late Thursday, claiming the lives of people from a number of nationalities, including 21 Indians and at least 13 Britons.
British minister of state at the Foreign Office, Kim Howells, interrupted a regional tour to visit the tiny Gulf island, meeting with King Hamad and other officials.
Howells told AFP that his government will not take part in the investigation but will be watching it "very carefully since we have a national interest in this... The king promised to do everything to help."
Bahrain's interior minister is heading the probe.
The traditional wooden boat known as a banoosh had been chartered for a company dinner cruise when it capsized about a mile (almost two kilometers) out to sea.
An Egyptian survivor who was on the upper deck at the time of the accident alleged that poor steering had contributed to the tragedy.
"The sailor turned the boat around abruptly. It tilted to the right and in 15 seconds slammed into the water. Everybody who was on the upper deck was thrown into water," said Nasser Wahib, 37, who was on board with a brother and friend, all of whom survived.
"A few seconds later, the boat flipped upside down. Those in the lower deck were trapped inside. I could see them banging on the glass window trying to get out. I tried to help them but I couldn't break the glass," he told AFP.
Al-Wasat daily published Saturday an interview with the "captain of the banoosh", naming him Captain R, in which he put the blame on the tour operator, saying they insisted on loading too much drinks and party equipment.
Abdullah al-Qubaisi, from the Al-Dana company that owned the two-level 30-metre (100-foot) vessel, blamed the disaster also on overloading, telling state television it was allowed to carry only 100 passengers.
He said the boat was rented to a local company called Island Tours which arranged the cruise.
"They loaded the boat with more than its capacity. The captain refused to sail but they forced him to leave," Qubaisi said.
But the owner of the tour company described Dana's accusations as "absurd".
"Obviously they are going to shift the blame... They were of the view that they had more than enough capacity," Island Tours owner Sheikh Nawaf bin Issa al-Khalifa told AFP.
Sheikh Nawaf, a member of Bahrain's ruling family, whose company does not operate traditional banoosh boats, said he had documentation from Dana "to that effect".
Tour operators said they had temporarily suspended sea trips after the banoosh tragedy.
The interior ministry said the dead included 21 Indians, 13 Britons, five South Africans and five Filipinos, while 67 people were rescued, and two remained missing.
The dead also included four Singaporeans, four Pakistanis, two Thais, one German, one Irish and one South Korean woman, ministry spokesman Colonel Tarek al-Hassan told reporters.
Thirty Indians, nine Britons, eight South Africans, five Filipinos and one American were listed among the survivors.
The British embassy had put the number of dead Britons at 15, including three with dual nationalities. A rapid crisis team was dispatched from London and was comforting the bereaved families.
"They will offer practical moral support to loved ones," Howells said.
South African company Murray and Roberts and its partner Bahraini firm Nass had hired the boat to celebrate completing the shell of a 150-million-dollar World Trade Center being built in Manama and slated to be the tallest building in the country.
Three senior British executives were among the dead, according to a list obtained from a project official.
A group of Indian men gathered outside the morgue of the Salmaniya hospital in Manama in search of the body of one of their relatives, Abdulwahab, a 26-year-old waiter who perished in the accident.
"We must take him to India as soon as possible. His mother is ill and will not eat or drink before seeing the body," Mohammed Mahin, 36, said.
Bahrain is an archipelago of 35 islands ruled by the Sunni Muslim Al-Khalifa dynasty. It has a population of 650,000, of whom 450,000 are Bahrainis.
The small kingdom is the leading banking center in the Gulf, and the main base of Islamic banking in the region.
April 1st, 2006, 05:53 PM
It happened 20th-21st of March, but burnt for days and days, it happened in the Gulf of Aden. It was in Lloyds list.
Firework theory discounted as cause of explosions
The explosions that ripped apart the Hyundai Fortune last week were so powerful that the original theory of fireworks catching alight is being discounted in some circles.
Instead, experts are turning their attention to other explanations after studying new photographs of the containership that reveal in far more detail the full extent of the devastation.
The rear section of the 5,551 teu ship has been almost totally destroyed by the fire that has blazed for the past week.
Damage to the hull, which is almost split in two, has raised suspicions “that it may not have been fireworks” which caused the accident, the TT Club’s chief executive Paul Neagle told a press conference to announce the mutual insurer’s latest results.
The stern of the Hyundai Fortune has been burned out and the hull holed, raising questions about whether some external force was responsible.
April 3rd, 2006, 03:55 PM
Egypt bans wife of ferry owner from travel
CAIRO, March 31, 2006 (AFP) - Egyptian authorities have banned the wife of the owner of a ferry that sank in the Red Sea, killing about 1,000 people, from leaving the country, an official at Cairo airport said on Friday.
Sausan Abdul Aziz was turned away at the airport as she tried to board a flight to Britain, the official added. He said Abdul Aziz showed up at the airport apparently unaware of an order banning her from travel.
She had planned to fly to London to join her husband, Mamduh Ismail.
Ismail, an MP, left Egypt despite an investigation into the sinking in February of the Al-Salam Boccacio 98, his 36-year-old ship.
The ship was sailing from the Saudi port of Duba and carried mostly Egyptian itinerant workers, some of whom were bringing months if not years' worth of savings back home.
In mid-March, parliament lifted Ismail's immunity so he can be questioned in connection with the disaster. Ismail told the public prosecutor before his departure that he had no responsibility in the case.
Egypt has said it will ask Britain to extradite Ismail should the investigation implicate him in any way.
April 3rd, 2006, 07:31 PM
Last survivor found in Bahrain boat tragedy
MANAMA, April 3, 2006 (AFP) - Bahrain wrapped up search and rescue operations Monday after tracking down the last survivor from the sinking of a leisure boat last week that left 58 people dead, all of them foreigners.
As they ended the round-the-clock search, Bahraini authorities vowed to act to improve boat safety around the Gulf archipelago following Thursday night's disaster when a wooden dhow packed with foreigners on a company dinner cruise capsized.
"The search operation has finished," interior ministry official Mohamed bin Dina announced. "The final toll is 58 dead while the number of survivors has risen to 72.
"We were assured a Filipino passenger had been rescued by another tourism boat. The Philippines embassy informed the Bahraini authorities Monday that he was safe and sound."
The body of a missing Filipina woman was also identified Monday in the morgue by one of her friends, he said.
Looking to prevent another disaster, Bahraini authorities said they had ordered ship owners to prove the seaworthiness of their vessels.
The coast guard command has summoned all owners of passenger boats to turn up at his office on Tuesday and Wednesday with a "complete dossier" of documents such as technical safety and insurance certificates, as well as licences to carry passengers and other permits.
"Those who do not obey this order will have their boats prohibited from sailing," the coast guard said in a statement.
The 130-passenger boat's final death toll was 22 Indians, 13 Britons, five South Africans, four Filipinos, four Singaporeans, three Thais, one German, one Korean and an Irish national, the interior ministry said.
But the British embassy put the British dead at 15, including three with dual nationality.
Members of the Gulf state's British community voiced anger at what they called the authorities' negligence when it came to monitoring its cruise boats.
British nationals have raised questions about the seaworthiness of the sunken boat, known locally as a Banoosh, which was unlicensed to make sea trips. They also charged that the three-member crew was not properly qualified to take people out to sea.
"It's outrageous. It is of major concern," said Ken Lennox, 61. "I do believe safety has to be at the core of a country's business and operations."
The boat's owner and the tour operator who arranged the trip, both Bahrainis, including one who is a member of the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty, have traded accusations over whether the vessel was overloaded.
"It seems that all the systems are in place and all the necessary permits that are required seem to be what you would expect, but it is as if they are not enforced," said Kevin Gradwell, a metalurgist.
Both men said the Bahraini authorities, who have launched a probe into the accident, must prove they are conducting a transparent investigation and prosecute those responsible.
Otherwise, they warned, Bahrain's image as an attractive and relatively tolerant haven for foreigners in the conservative Muslim Gulf region would be severely tarnished.
"If this is swept under the carpet, then concerns will lie in the back of people's minds," Lennox said.
There are an estimated 7,000 Britons in Bahrain, according to the embassy, out of a total population of 650,000, including about 200,000 foreigners, according to a 2001 census.
Except for a fringe hardline minority and occasional anti-Western sentiments that flare up during demonstrations for causes like Iraq and the Middle East conflict, most Bahrainis welcome foreigners.
The island is also home to the US navy's Fifth Fleet.
April 5th, 2006, 04:01 PM
Mounties probe BC Ferries
Police looking at whether Crown corporation criminally liable for sinking
Matthew Ramsey and Christina Montgomery
CanWest News Service
31 March 2006
VANCOUVER - Police have launched a criminal investigation into the sinking of the Queen of the North that includes potential criminal liability on the part of BC Ferries, CanWest News Service has learned.
"That's one of the perspectives [of the probe]," Sergeant Ken Burton of the Prince Rupert RCMP confirmed yesterday. "We are exploring all the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate event."
Two passengers -- Gerald Foisy, 46, and Shirley Rosette, 42 -- are missing and presumed drowned in the March 22 sinking off Gil Island in Wright Sound, southwest of Prince Rupert. Ninety-nine passengers and crew escaped.
In a rare move, police are investigating potential violations of federal Bill C-45, which came into effect in March, 2004, and holds organizations criminally liable for their actions.
The law applies, among others, to corporations and trade unions. It also applies to Crown corporations and agents of the Crown. It can apply "when the actions of those with authority and other employees, taken as a whole, demonstrate a lack of care constituting criminal negligence."
Until yesterday, the RCMP would say only that they would not become involved unless the federal Transportation Safety Board investigation indicated there might have been a criminal element to the March 22 incident.
"We've always been involved from the investigative perspective," Sgt. Burton said yesterday. "The RCMP is running a parallel and concurrent investigation. [The sinking] is a significant event for the coast."
Sgt. Burton confirmed the "multi-pronged" investigation is looking at potential violations of federal Bill C-45, which deals with criminal liability of organizations including corporations and unions.
The investigation is also looking at possible violations of the Criminal Code of Canada and the Canada Shipping Act, among many other regulatory frameworks.
"We are looking at absolutely everything. It's a long-term investigation. It's a very detailed investigation," he said.
Sgt. Burton said it would be premature to speculate on possible charges. The investigation involves officers from Prince Rupert, RCMP marine and data management units as well as general investigation officers from other detachments, he said.
Under Bill C-45, corporations and organizations cannot be imprisoned, but they can be heavily fined. Summary conviction offences can result in fines of up to $100,000. There is no limit placed on fines for more serious indictable crimes.
In cases of alleged negligence, the Crown must argue that employees acted negligently and that a senior officer could and should have taken reasonable steps to prevent those actions.
Bill C-45 was passed as a direct response to the 1992 Westray disaster, a methane explosion that killed 26 workers in a newly re-opened Nova Scotia coal mine.
A judicial inquiry concluded the deaths were caused by a series of failures in safety practices.
The investigation by the Transporation Safety Board is strictly safety-based and does not determine criminal liability, stressed agency spokesman John Cottreau.
Mr. Cottreau said all information the board collects is being kept strictly confidential in order to preserve the integrity of the federal process.
"We're not sharing information [with police] with respect to passenger and crew interview data at all. We have never, ever given it up," he said.
More than a week after the ferry went down, TSB investigators have returned to their offices in Richmond and in Gatineau, Que., to begin analysis of mountains of data. The investigators will sift through interviews with 99 rescued passengers and crew, communication logs and BC ferries safety management policies and procedures.
It's not clear when a final report will be issued.
There have been conflicting accounts this week about whether the two crew members on the bridge when the Queen of the North ran aground were manually steering the ferry or whether it was being guided by the ship's new autopilot system.
The distinction could be important because according to the Canada Shipping Act, three crew members are required on the bridge if the helmsperson is steering and the coast is not visible from the wheel.
If there are just two crew members on the bridge, the vessel must be on autopilot.
"If someone is steering, you're required to have three; if you're on autopilot you're required to have two," Rod Nelson of Transport Canada said on Monday. "We'll have to investigate the circumstances before we determine whether there was a violation or not and we haven't done that yet."
Such a violation can result in fines up to $10,000, Mr. Nelson said.
Meanwhile, Global TV in Vancouver reported on Monday the ferry was on autopilot and speed was a factor in the accident.
The story is further complicated by the fact some autopilot systems allow for a person to steer and alter a course while technically the system is still engaged, a source close to the investigation said on Monday.
A junior officer and helmsperson were on the bridge at the time of the crash -- the senior officer was on a dinner break.
On Monday, John Cottreau, spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board, told the Victoria Times-Colonist: "From our information at this time, the bridge team was steering the boat."
April 8th, 2006, 06:20 PM
Death toll rises to 97 in Djibouti boat accident
DJIBOUTI, April 8, 2006 (AFP) - The death toll from a ship capsize off the coast of the Red Sea state of Djibouti rose to at least 97 on Saturday as authorities reported the recovery of 24 more bodies, officials said.
The toll climbed as the search went on for an unknown number of people still believed missing from Thursday's accident, thought to be the worst-ever disaster since the country won independence from France in 1975.
Security forces recovered the latest 24 bodies from the waters off the Port of Djibouti and brought them to the pier for identification, according to the state news agency, Agence Djiboutienne d'Information (ADI).
Many of the dead and wounded were elderly and unable to swim. On Friday, the confirmed death toll had stood at 73.
At least 77 people are believed to have survived the accident apparently caused by the overloading of the vessel -- designed to transport cargo and not more than about 150 people -- with 250 to 300 passengers.
The exact number of people on board, most of whom were travelling to a religious gathering, is unknown as there was no passenger list for the traditional wooden boat named the "Al Baraqua II."
Djibouti naval commander Colonel Abdourahman Aden Cher said Friday that the search would continue until all of those believed missing are recovered.
Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh has ordered a full investigation into the accident that occurred shortly after the boat left the port en route to the town of Tadjourah where a Muslim religious festival was held on Friday.
Witnesses said the boat became unbalanced and overturned after many passengers crowded to one side of the deck shortly before the accident.
A Djiboutian official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said some survivors said that the accident occurred after passengers asked the captain to shut off the boat's engines for a prayer service.
Djibouti, located at the southern end of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aden, is a key staging post between the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.
April 10th, 2006, 04:28 PM
At least 120 dead in Ghana's Lake Volta accident: police
ACCRA, April 10, 2006 (AFP) - At least 120 people died when a boat sank on Lake Volta in Ghana, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) northwest of the capital Accra, police said Monday.
A police spokesman said the accident took place on Saturday in an isolated part of the lake.
"One hundred and fifty people were on board the boat and to date 30 people have been rescued alive," he said.
"The search of the more bodies is continuing," he added. Three bodies of children aged between five and eight had been recovered.
No further details were available Monday on the circumstances surrounding the accident, or the exact location where it took place.
April 10th, 2006, 04:32 PM
Report: Death toll from Djibouti boat accident rises to 109
9 April 2006
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (AP) - The death toll from last week's boat accident in Djibouti has risen to 109 after navy and coast guard crews recovered more bodies, the state-owned news agency reported.
Crews recovered the bodies in the harbor where a boat ferrying passengers to an annual religious festival overturned Thursday off the coast of Djibouti, the Djibouti News Agency reported Saturday.
On Thursday, Ismael Tani, an adviser to President Ismail Umar Guelleh said that the provisional death toll was 69.
The boat was carrying more than 300 passengers when it was going to the country's north for the festival and survivors said that it was overloaded, the Djibouti News Agency reported Saturday.
Djibouti, a Horn of Africa nation of some 486,000 people bordering Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, is a former French territory and hosts the only U.S. military base in sub-Saharan Africa.
April 11th, 2006, 04:09 PM
Ghana Calls Off Search For Survivors Of Boat Accident
11 April 2006
ACCRA, Ghana (AP)--Rescuers said Tuesday they believed they would find no more survivors after an overloaded boat carrying some 150 people sank on a lake in Ghana over the weekend, and were now turning to the task of recovering bodies - perhaps as many as 100.
"We believe strongly that there are no more survivors" of Saturday's accident, rescue team leader Emmanuel Egbenyo said. He said the rescue team has found nine bodies so far, three of them children, and plans to send in divers to retrieve the remaining bodies.
Egbenyo said the actual number of survivors may be higher than the 40 known, as some passengers may have returned to their families without registering with authorities.
The motorboat was carrying passengers across Lake Volta - the world's largest artificial lake - when it struck a submerged tree trunk and sank, police said.
Some 1,863 people died when the MS Joola capsized off the coast of Senegal in 2002, a more deadly accident than the Titanic. Only about 60 people survived.
April 14th, 2006, 04:25 AM
Egypt Blocks Sale Of Ship By Owner Of Ferry That Sank
13 April 2006
CAIRO (AP)--Egyptian state prosecutors on Thursday blocked the sale of a ship by the owner of the shipping line whose ferry sank in the Red Sea two months ago with the loss of more than 1,000 lives.
Senior prosecutor Gaber Rayhan told reporters his office had stopped the sale by freezing the assets of Mamdouh Ismail and his family.
Ismail, a member of Egypt's upper house of Parliament, fled the country recently after reports emerged of gross negligence in the operation of Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98, the ferry that sank Feb. 3 after a fire broke out during a voyage from Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian port of Safaga. More than 1,000 of the 1,400 passengers and crew drowned. Many were Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia.
Rayhan said Ismail's agents and lawyers were trying to sell a vessel of the Al-Salaam line, but the asset freeze had made such a sale illegal.
An investigation has found that the Panama-registered ferry had false documents for its firefighting equipment and life boats.
The upper house, the Shura Council, has stripped Ismail of his parliamentary immunity.
April 19th, 2006, 04:12 PM
At least 20 dead after DRCongo boat capsizes
BUKAVU, DRCongo, April 18, 2006 (AFP) - At least 20 people died and 11 others were reported missing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after a motorised wooden boat capsized at the weekend on Lake Tanganyika, on the country's eastern border, a local official said Tuesday.
The vessel was carrying about 120 people between the towns of Fizi and Uvira about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Bukavu, the main town of Sud-Kivu province, when it sank overnight Sunday, Uvira administrator Daniel Eloko told AFP.
Eloko initially said nine bodies had been recovered, and on Tuesday 11 more were pulled from the lake.
The waters of Lake Tanganyika, the world's longest freshwater body straddling DRC, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia, were "stirred up around Fizi" after days of rain, he said.
A shipbuilder's association on the lake said the capsize was due to overcrowding on the boat.
April 27th, 2006, 06:56 AM
New dive on Canadian ferry wreck
25 April 2006
CANADIAN investigators trying to determine the cause of last month’s fatal ferry sinking on the Pacific coast will launch another probe of the underwater wreck site, according to officials, Reuters reports.
The dive operation will examine the wheelhouse of the sunken Queen of the North, which is located in about 400 m of water in British Columbia’s Inside Passage, the Transportation Safety Board said.
The ship, which was carrying 101 passengers and crew, sank in the early morning darkness of March 22, about 75 miles south of Prince Rupert, after hitting Gil Island on a scheduled trip down the coast.
Ninety-nine people were rescued but two are missing and presumed dead.
Investigators conducted a two-day dive at the wreck site several days after the accident, using a remote-controled submarine that took pictures of the outside of the vessel, which is resting on the floor of Wright Sound.
“TSB investigators hope to recover information relative to the vessel's movements before the grounding,” the federal agency said.
“The dive will also document the steering selector system and other relevant equipment in the wheelhouse.”
The dive is expected to begin in the second week of May and last seven days.
BC Ferries has been unable to find a temporary replacement vessel for the busy summer season, and efforts to use a vessel from Alaska’s ferry service to help the Canadian communities have not been successful.
May 24th, 2006, 10:40 PM
Egypt asks Interpol to arrest sunken ferry owner
CAIRO, May 24, 2006 (AFP) - Egypt issued an arrest warrant Wednesday which it transferred to Interpol against a businessman who fled to London after one of his ferries sank in the Red Sea, killing more than 1,000 people.
Prosecutor Maher Abdel Wahed is seeking the arrest of Mamduh Ismail and his son Amr who left Egypt in the aftermath of the tragedy, one of the worst maritime disasters in recent history, judicial sources told AFP.
The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 sunk in the middle of the Red Sea on February 3 as it was carrying more than 1,400 people from Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian port of Safaga.
A preliminary report into the disaster published in April blamed the owners but also strongly implicated the Egyptian government. Both have denied any responsibility.
Ismail, a government-appointed member of the upper house and the ruling National Democratic Party, was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in March and his assets were frozen a month later.
The fact that Ismail, who is believed to have close ties with the presidential palace, was allowed to flee the country had fueled accusations that the state was involved at the highest level.
May 29th, 2006, 02:34 PM
Is that thread about contemporary disasters only?
May 29th, 2006, 03:38 PM
Is that thread about contemporary disasters only?
I will provide updates on recent disasters, but feel free to discuss historical disasters as well.
May 29th, 2006, 09:10 PM
The Wilhelm Gustloff was a passenger ship built by the Blohm and Voss shipyards, and was named after the assassinated Nazi political activist, Wilhelm Gustloff. It was launched on May 5, 1937. On a mission to help evacuate Germans trapped by the Red Army in East Prussia, it was hit by three torpedoes from a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea on the night of January 30, 1945. The sinking remains the worst disaster in maritime history — it left over 9,000 people dead, more than half of them children.
7956 refugees were registered. It is estimated that after the registration 2,000 people were allowed on the ship. With the crew there must have been over 10,000 people on board. At sea, hundreds of refugees from Reval came on board.
1,239 passengers survived, saved by German vessels. According to the ship's records, the total number of passengers who died was 6,050 people. Including the unregistered, the death toll was almost certainly higher. Today, one may find reports of 9,000, 10,000 and more. These numbers are estimates made by different methods. For example, the Discovery Channel program "Unsolved History" has undertaken computer analysis of the sinking which estimated 9,400 dead (among over 10,600 on board). The analysis considered load density based on witness reports and simulation of escape routes and survivability with the timeline of sinking. More than half of the victims were children.
55.07° N 17.41° E is the resting place of the Gustloff. This is 30 km offshore, east of Łeba (17.33E) and west of Władysławowo (18.24E). It has been designated as a war memorial site (off-limits to salvage crews). On Polish navigation charts it is noted as "Obstacle No. 73".
Info Source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Gustloff_%28ship%29)
May 30th, 2006, 11:18 AM
The Goya was a German refugee ship which was originally built as the freighter Akers in Oslo in 1940 with a length of 131 m and width of 17 m.
On 16 April 1945, the Goya was sailing across the Baltic Sea to western Germany, overfilled with refugees fleeing the Red Army and the war, including members of the German 35th Tank Regiment. As the ship passed the Hel Peninsula at the exit of the Danziger bay, it was sighted by the Soviet submarine L-3. At around 23:52, the commander of L3, Captain Vladimir Konowalow, gave the order to fire.
Within only seven minutes of being torpedoed, the Goya sank to a depth of approximately 78 m, with the loss of at least 6,000 people drowned. The exact number can probably never be determined, since the passenger list stopped abruptly at 6,100 people. Only 165 passengers were saved.
Exactly 58 years after the sinking of the Goya, the wreck was discovered on 16 April 2003 by an international expedition under the direction of Ulrich Restemeyer with the help of 3D-Sonar scanning. The wreck lay at a depth of 76 m depth below the Baltic Sea and was in remarkably good condition.
Position: 55° 12' N 18° 18' E
Water depth: 75 - 78 m.
May 30th, 2006, 11:22 AM
General von Steuben, the 14,600-ton liner set sail from Pillau in the bay of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) on February 10, 1945, her destination being Swinemünde. On board were 2,000 wounded soldiers, 320 nurses and 30 doctors as well as over 1,000 refugees fleeing the advancing troops of the Soviet Union. Just after midnight, two torpedoes from the Soviet submarine S-13 hit the Steuben. According to survivors, she sank within about twenty minutes. Approximately 4,500 people died in the sinking of the General von Steuben; there were 659 survivors.
Position: 54°41' N 16°51' E
Water depth: 71,5 meters
May 30th, 2006, 11:35 AM
The SS Cap Arcona was a 27,500 gross ton German luxury ocean liner of the Hamburg-South America line.
On April 26, 1945, she was loaded with prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg and, together with two smaller ships, Thielbek and Athen, was brought into the Bay of Lübeck with the intention of destroying evidence of what had happened at Neuengamme by scuttling the ships with the prisoners imprisoned below.
During these days, informed by British Intelligence, Count Folke Bernadotte, vice-president of the Red Cross, gained much goodwill leading a rescue operation transporting west European deportees to hospitals in Sweden, of whom some were French-speakers transported aboard the Cap Arcona.
Four days after Hitler's suicide, on May 3, 1945, the Cap Arcona, the Thielbek, and the passenger liner Deutschland (converted to a hospital ship but unmarked as such) were sunk in four separate attacks by RAF planes of 83 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force: the first by 184 Squadron based in Hustedt; the second by 198 Squadron based in Plantlünne, led by Group Captain Johnny Baldwin; the third by 263 Squadron based in Ahlhorn; and the fourth by Royal Air Force Hawker Typhoons of 197 Squadron based in Ahlhorn. The fighters used rockets, bombs, and machine-guns. After the first wave had attacked the ships, the Cap Arcona hoisted the white ensign without any effect. The ships were carrying from 7,000 to 8,000 prisoners from the German concentration camps in Neuengamme, Stutthof and Mittelbau-Dora, half of whom were Russian and Polish POWs, others from 24 nationalities, including French, Danish, and Dutch. Those reaching the shore after the sinkings were shot by SS troops, but about 350 managed to escape from the massacre, others were machine gunned by the British pilots while trying to get ashore.
May 30th, 2006, 11:37 AM
The Cap Arcona sinking and the Soviet sinkings of the Wilhelm Gustloff and the Goya in the Baltic Sea were sinkings with three of the highest losses of life.
June 7th, 2006, 01:28 AM
Egypt says families of ferry victims to get compensation
By MAGGIE MICHAEL
6 June 2006
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The owner of a ferry that sank in the Red Sea last winter, drowning more than 1,000 people, will pay millions in compensation to survivors and victims' families, an Egyptian prosecutor said Tuesday.
The owner, Mamdouh Ismail, fled the country with his son shortly before another prosecutor ordered the two, and four others, to face trial on charges of negligence and corruption. He is believed to be in Europe.
The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, with roughly 1,400 passengers and crew aboard, sank after a fire broke out in the vessel's car parking bay while it was en route from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. Most victims were Egyptian workers returning home from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.
Prosecutor Gaber Rayhan said a total of 330 million Egyptian pounds (US$57 million) would be paid. He did not specify how Ismail had paid the compensation money to the government to hand on to victims, or if it was money the owner had received from insurance payouts.
The family of each victim will get 300,000 Egyptian pounds (US$52,000) and each survivor will get 50,000 Egyptian pounds (US$8,700), the prosecutor said. In addition, people who lost cars will get 70,000 pounds (US$12,000) and truck owners 140,000 pounds (US $24,000). He said the money would be paid within days.
Rayhan said he had ordered the lifting of a previous freeze on the assets of the ship owner and family members because the owner had paid the compensation money.
Ismail and his son, Amr, and a third defendant are being tried in absentia in the trial that began Monday in Egypt's Red Sea port of Safaga. Three other defendants were in attendance as the trial began and was adjourned to July 3.
Late last month, Prosecutor-General Maher Abdel Wahed blamed the captain of the ferry and three of his top aides, all of whom died in the disaster, for the sinking.
Abdel Wahed said the four should have sailed back to the Saudi port of Dubah, which was closer to the ship's location when the fire broke out. Instead, the ship continued toward Safaga in Egypt.
The crew also failed to send a distress signal or radio for help from nearby ships, the official said.
Abdel Wahed said Ismail, the ferry's owner, and his five co-defendants had failed to act swiftly when they first learned of Al-Salam's sinking, delaying rescue operations.
Ismail, a member of parliament's upper house, and his son, who served as a top executive in the ferry company, fled Egypt shortly after the disaster and are believed to be somewhere in Europe. Ismail's parliamentary immunity has been lifted.
The sinking of the ship with such a heavy loss of life touched a raw nerve in Egypt. It has lent credibility to longtime charges that President Hosni Mubarak's government was abetting corruption by wealthy businessmen close to powerful regime members.
The slow and cumbersome rescue operation has also fed discontent, with relatives of victims and survivors openly criticizing Mubarak and his government in television interviews broadcast across the world. Mubarak, 78, has ruled Egypt virtually unchallenged for nearly 25 years.
June 17th, 2006, 04:36 AM
Saudis hand over manager of sunken ferry to Egypt
CAIRO, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - Saudi authorities handed over to Egypt on Friday the manager of the company that owns the Egyptian ferry which sank in February, killing about 1,000 people, airport sources told AFP.
"Egypt was handed Mamduh Orabi, the manager of the company that owns Al-Salam 98 by Saudi authorities after he was arrested a few days ago at Egypt's request," the source said.
Orabi, who arrived under heavy security aboard a Saudi Airlines flight early Friday, was immediately taken in for questioning, the source said.
He had been arrested a few days earlier in Riyadh on an Egypt warrant. His whereabouts had previously been unknown.
The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in the middle of the Red Sea on February 3 as it was carrying more than 1,400 people from Saudi Arabia to the Egyptian port of Safaga.
Orabi was one of six defendants absent when the trial over the disaster opened in Egypt last week.
The main defendant is Mamduh Ismail, owner of Al-Salam, which operated the 36-year-old ferry. He already faces an Interpol arrest notice after he left for Britain following the sinking -- the deadliest disaster in Egyptian maritime history.
In April, a parliamentary commission of inquiry blamed Al-Salam for the disaster, saying the firm continued to operate the ferry "despite serious defects" in the vessel.
It also said the government "failed to manage the crisis adequately" in the days after the sinking.
Ismail has denied responsibility for the disaster, and accused the captain of the Al-Salam 98, who went down with his ship, of overestimating the crew's ability to fight a fire that broke out on board.
The passengers on the ferry were mostly Egyptian migrant workers, some of whom were bringing months', if not years', worth of savings to their families back home.
June 24th, 2006, 05:12 AM
More survivors found in Indonesian ferry accident, 23 still missing
JAKARTA, June 23, 2006 (AFP) - More survivors were found Friday after a ferry sank in heavy seas off Indonesia's Sumatra island but 23 were still missing, an official said.
A vessel operated by the UN World Food Program (WFP) plucked 11 people just after midnight from waters between the islands of Bintana and Mursala, said Frits Agamsyah, the port administrator in Sibolga in North Sumatra province.
"They were found floating wearing life jackets," Agamsyah told AFP.
In total he said that 93 survivors had now been rescued and the search for those still missing was continuing.
Officials said 116 people, including a crew of 12, were originally on board the privately-operated Surya Makmur Indah when it departed Sibolga on Sumatra's west coast for Gunung Sitoli, the main town on Nias island.
Agamsyah said that, contrary to what other officials said Thursday, three foreigners were not among the missing. The trio had boarded another ship and arrived safely at their destination.
The WFP said in a statement that its landing craft was "manoeuvring through bad weather" off Mursala when the ship's captain spotted the latest survivors -- six men, four women and one child.
Marni Tanjung, a 30-year-old survivor whose child is still missing, said the ship was battered by huge waves at midnight Wednesday and water started to pour in.
"We went upstairs with my child and the lights were out. At 3:00 am we were given life jackets. Water was everywhere and everybody was crying. We surrendered our fate to Allah and I hope my child is safe," she told Elshinta radio from the state hospital in Sibolga.
The ill-fated ferry departed Sibolga at 9:00 pm Wednesday for the 140-kilometre (87-mile) journey but lost all contact with port authorities about two hours later, officials said.
Nias was one of the areas hit by a massive 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
Three months later, Nias was rocked by an 8.7-magnitude quake which killed 850 people.
June 30th, 2006, 11:10 PM
Surprised the Safmarine vessel currently sitting on a beach in South Africa has been missed:
Safmarine confirms the Safmarine Agulhas - a 1706 nominal TEU container ship owned by F.A Vinnen & Co Gmbh & Co and deployed on the Europe/South Africa Intermediate service - ran aground in rough seas at approximately 21H15 on Monday 26 June, 2006 while leaving the port of East London, South Africa.
The vessel is currently on charter to Safmarine Container Lines N.V.
All persons on board are unharmed and the vessel is reported to be sound. No oil spill has been reported and all relevant authorities have been informed of the incident.
Immediate attempts were made to refloat her. Regrettably, these attempts have been unsuccessful due to rough seas, which are preventing the National Port Authority (NPA) tugs from getting close enough to get the lines on board the vessel.
Safmarine is working closely with the vessel owners, Vinnen & Co., the NPA, SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authorities) and the appointed salvors, Smit Marine, providing all appropriate support to the salvage operation.
The salvors will begin operations to remove bunkers from the vessel this morning. The vessel has 662mt of heavy fuel on board (HFO), 88mt of diesel oil (DO) and is carrying 469 loaded containers and 112 empty containers.
Facts about the Vessel
Vessel status: Chartered
Owner: F.A. Vinnen & Co. (GmbH & Co. KG)
Name of Vessel: Safmarine Agulhas
Year Built: 1995
Trade: SAECS trade second string
Capacity: 1706 TEU
Length: 183,9 mtrs
Width: 25,3 mtrs
Draft: 9,9 mtrs
Number of Crew: 22
UPDATE ON SALVAGE OPERATIONS - SAFMARINE AGULHAS, VOYAGE NO 603A
Attempts to refloat the Safmarine Agulhas will continue later today.
Refloating attempts were made at high tide last night (29 June) and early this morning (30 June). During these attempts the vessel moved approximately 50 metres.
The Safmarine Agulhas, owned by F.A Vinnen & Co Gmbh & Co and deployed on the Europe/South Africa (SAECS) Intermediate service, ran aground at approximately 21H15 on Monday 26 June 2006 while leaving the port of East London, South Africa.
Safmarine is working closely with the vessel owners, Vinnen & Co., the NPA, SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authorities) and salvors Smit Marine to provide the necessary support for the salvage operation.
The crew have remained on board and are all unharmed. No damage to the environment has been reported and all Safmarine customers, who have cargo on board the vessel, are being kept updated on the situation.
Facts about the Vessel
Vessel status: Chartered
Owner: F.A. Vinnen & Co. (GmbH & Co. KG)
Name of Vessel: Safmarine Agulhas
Year Built: 1995
Trade: SAECS trade second string
Capacity: 1706 TEU
Length: 183,9 mtrs
Width: 25,3 mtrs
Draft: 9,9 mtrs
Number of Crew: 22
August 4th, 2006, 03:56 PM
Ship runs aground, dumps 200 tons of sulfuric acid into China's ancient Grand Canal
4 August 2006
BEIJING (AP) - A ship ran aground in China's 900-year-old Grand Canal dumping 200 tons of sulfuric acid into water, state media said Friday, in the latest incident to taint the country's already severely polluted waterways.
The official Xinhua News Agency said that pollution-control officials dumped 200 tons of liquid alkali into the water within 12 hours to neutralize the acid.
The boat crash occurred Wednesday in the canal's Yuhang section in Hangzhou, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Shanghai, it said.
A test on the canal Thursday showed that water within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of the spill remained polluted, it said, without giving specifics. Water outside that area was "normal," it said.
Boat traffic in the area was banned for half a day after the incident but allowed again after the alkali was dumped in the water, it said.
About 1,000 vessels a day use the Yuhang, it said.
Dirty water is China's most pressing environmental problem. Most of China's canals, rivers and lakes are polluted and only about a third of the 3.7 billion tons (3.3 billion metric tons) of wastewater discharged by China's huge cities each year is treated.
August 30th, 2006, 05:52 AM
Australia, France to help Philippines deal with massive oil spill, Arroyo says
By JIM GOMEZ
28 August 2006
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Australia and France have pledged to help the Philippines clean up a massive oil spill from a sunken tanker, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Monday.
Arroyo thanked the United States and Japan for sending experts to help deal with the spill, which has contaminated resorts, marine reserves, seaweed farms and fishing communities on the southern coast of Guimaras island and outlying areas.
Officials will appeal for more foreign assistance, she said, adding that Australia and France have offered help. She did not elaborate on the specific aid that both countries might provide.
Solar I, carrying about 2 million liters (500,000 gallons) of bunker oil, sank off Guimaras on Aug. 11 in rough seas, then began spilling oil that has affected a 220-kilometer (137-mile) stretch of coastline.
An investigation will pinpoint criminal liability and come up with ways to prevent a recurrence, Arroyo said.
"There will be a wide-ranging investigation to find out what happened, who was responsible and what steps (are) needed to be taken to ensure this accident would never happen again," Arroyo told the Radio Mindanao Network.
Traces of oil have been carried by the currents to the shores of two towns in Iloilo province, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Guimaras, coast guard officials said.
The Guimaras provincial government has reported that more than 26,000 people -- directly and indirectly dependent on fishing -- have been affected.
Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes said the tanker has been located about 700 meters (2,296 feet) under the sea. Officials will wait for a Japanese salvage ship to arrive later this week and examine the tanker with a remote-controlled probe before deciding what to do next, he said.
If the tanker still has oil in it, the government may siphon off the remaining bunker fuel because it could break apart if lifted, Reyes said, adding that entombing the vessel under the seabed would be too costly.
"We have to do this quick because some people say it's a disaster again waiting to happen," Reyes told ABS-CBN television.
Arroyo, who visited Guimaras on Saturday, returned to the island Monday to check on the progress of a large-scale cleanup and steps taken by officials to safeguard the health of villagers living near contaminated shores and help them find other sources of income.
"We assure the affected residents that the government, together with international partners, is doing only the best to bring back the healthy state of Guimaras," she said.
Arroyo said the government will ask the conservation group World Wildlife Fund to come up with scientific analyses and solutions to protect Guimaras' marine environment.
A top executive of Petron Corp., the country's largest oil refiner and owner of the leaking fuel, told a Senate inquiry that his company has helped clean up 62 kilometers (38 miles) of Guimaras coastline by hiring more than 1,000 villagers.
Jose Jesus Laurel, Petron vice president for legal and external affairs, said the massive cleanup could be completed in 30-45 days.
The oil spill, one of the worst to hit the country, struck a region known for its marine reserves, rich fishing areas and popular beach resorts. It also exposed weaknesses in the government's ability to deal with such accidents.
September 5th, 2006, 06:43 PM
18 drown after boat sinks on Lake Volta in Ghana
ACCRA, Sept 5, 2006 (AFP) - Eighteen people drowned when their boat sank on Ghana's Lake Volta, one of the world's largest artificial lakes, police told AFP Tuesday.
A storm swept the boat onto rocks, smashing it in two, on a trip transporting traders between the towns of Salaga and Yeji on the lake, around 500 kilometres (310 miles) northwest of Accra, police spokesman George Mensah told AFP.
Rescuers saved 60 passengers and recovered 18 bodies, he said, adding that the boat had been visibly overloaded.
The director of Ghanaian maritime affairs, Peter Azuma, and port and railways minister, Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi, were due to visit the scene of the accident later Tuesday.
Overloaded boats often sink on the lake, that was formed in 1965.
Ninety nine people drowned in an accident there in 2002.
September 5th, 2006, 06:47 PM
Overloaded boat sinks in eastern Congo lake, killing at least 35 people, officials say
By ANJAN SUNDARAM
5 September 2006
GOMA, Congo (AP) - A boat overloaded with passengers and freight sank in choppy waters on an eastern Congo lake, killing at least 35 people aboard, shipping officials said Tuesday.
High winds and heavy waves swamped the boat Monday carrying 90 people and their goods on Lake Kivu, sinking the boat and killing at least 35 people, said Edouard Tamba Kakozi, president of the shipping association in the eastern Congo city of Goma.
"The boat was also overloaded. Now it is at the bottom of the lake," Kakozi told The Associated Press. U.N. officials confirmed the accident, saying at least two corpses had been recovered from the waters.
Accidents are common on Congo's poorly maintained boats -- many dating back to before independence in 1960 -- that are often overloaded with people and merchandise.
Decades of war, corruption and neglect have left Congo with only a few hundred kilometers (miles) of paved roads, making the Congo River, its tributaries and other waterways lifelines for commerce in the country the size of Western Europe.
On March 19, 2005, at least 16 people drowned when an overloaded ferry sank in the Congo River near Lukolela, 450 kilometers (260 miles) north of Kinshasa.
September 7th, 2006, 09:59 PM
Ghana shipwreck death toll rises
ACCRA, Sept 6, 2006 (AFP) - Some 24 people are now known to have died when a boat sank on Ghana's lake Volta and a further 18 are still missing, regional authorities told AFP on Wednesday.
"At present 24 bodies have been recovered," said Alhaji Gariba Iddrisu, prefect of the region were the disaster happened.
Police spokesman George Mensah added that 18 more people still had not been accounted for.
The boat sank after being swept onto rocks and smashed in two during a storm on Tuesday. Initial reports spoke of 18 people drowned.
According to 44-year-old Anamua Mensah, who survived the shipwreck, the boat was overloaded with cattle, sheep and food.
"There were at least 80 of us on board plus the animals and luggage," the passenger told AFP.
The director of Ghanaian maritime affairs, Peter Azuma, and Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi, the port and railways minister, were due to visit the scene of the accident on Wednesday.
Overloaded boats often sink on lake Volta, which was formed in 1965 and is one of the world's largest artificial lakes. Ninety nine people drowned in an accident there in 2002.
September 28th, 2006, 06:46 AM
Senegal remembers victims of Africa's worst sea ferry disaster
ZINGUINCHOR, Senegal, Sept 26, 2006 (AFP) - Senegal on Tuesday somberly marked the fourth anniversary of Africa's worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the Joola ferry, which claimed 1,863 lives in the Atlantic Ocean in 2002.
Senegalese Minister Defence Minister Becaye Diop led the commemorations which took place in the southern resort city of Ziguinchor in Casamance region.
The ferry, which sailed between the capital Dakar and Zinguinchor twice a week and was licensed to carry 550 people, had 1,927 passengers on board when it capsized off the coast of Gambia, a tiny sliver of a country separating Senegal into two.
Only 64 people survived the accident which claimed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, in which 1,563 died.
"The Joola drama should prevent young people of our country from travelling in boats of fortune in the search of fortune," said Moussa Cissokho, president of an association of victims' families, referring to the increasing number of Africans who die in attempts to migrate clandestinely by boat to Europe.
Commemorations started with prayers at a large mosque and a visit to Kantene cemetery where some of the unidentified victims were buried.
Other memorial events were also planned for Gambia where some of the unidentified victims had to be buried, according to a Senegalese diplomat in Banjul.
Among those aboard were students, school children and artists from around Senegal as well as nationals from elsewhere in Africa and Europe.
October 3rd, 2006, 05:04 PM
Shipping accidents increase in Baltic Sea
HELSINKI, Sept 28, 2006 (AFP) - The number of annual shipping accidents in the Baltic Sea has more than doubled since the beginning of this century, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) said Thursday.
It said there were 151 accidents in 2005 and 145 in 2004, compared to about only 60 annually during the period 2000-2003.
With 2,000 vessels including 200 tankers at sea at any one time, the Baltic has some of the heaviest maritime traffic in the world in relation to its area of 370,000 square kilometres (143,000 square miles).
"It's a worrisome trend", said HELCOM Executive Secretary Anne Christine Brusendorff.
She said one possible explanation was that the apparent increase was a result of new reporting requirements for shipping accidents established by HELCOM.
"Previously not all accidents were reported, but the new system ensures that we now get more complete data," she said. "But it's clear that the rapidly growing maritime traffic in the region could also have contributed to this increase in the number of accidents."
The HELCOM study showed that collisions, groundings, technical failures and fires or explosions were the most common types of accidents recorded in 2005. The share of collisions as a cause of accidents had increased from 27 percent in 2004 to 38 percent in 2005.
Cargo vessels, tankers, passenger ferries, bulk carriers and container ships in that order of importance were the main types of vessels involved in accidents. The main reason for accidents was human error, followed by technical factors.
The study said most of the Baltic accidents did not cause notable pollution, but even one large-scale accident would seriously threaten the marine environment.
Over the 2000-2005 period, an average of eight to nine percent of all reported accidents had resulted in pollution. In 2005, 13 accidents had also resulted in small-scale pollution, compared to 10 similar cases in the previous year.
HELCOM, governing body of the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area, works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between the countries bordering the sea - Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
November 9th, 2006, 03:42 PM
Children of Senegal's ferry disaster to become war orphans
DAKAR, Senegal, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - Senegal's national assembly has adopted a bill that classifies children of victims of Africa's worst maritime disaster as war orphans, a parliament source said.
The bill voted Tuesday night will provide for compensation for children of victims of the Joola ferry which capsized off the coast of Gambia, a tiny sliver of a country separating Senegal into two, claiming 1,863 lives in the Atlantic Ocean in 2002.
The law which comes into effect after its promulgation by the head of state will apply to children who were minors at the time of the accident in 2002.
"It is a very good thing. Let's hope that it is applied very quickly," said Issrissa Diallow, head of the group coordinating families of the ferry accident.
According to Boubacar Ba, spokesman of another association of the victims families, about 1,900 children will benefit from the new law.
The ferry, which sailed between the capital Dakar and the southern city of Zinguinchor twice a week and was licensed to carry 550 people, had 1,927 passengers on board when it sank.
Only 64 people survived the accident, which claimed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, when 1,563 died.
December 6th, 2006, 10:10 AM
Japan files papers with prosecutors on ship accidents
1 December 2006
TOKYO (AP) - Japan's coast guard has filed formal complaints against the captains of three ships that ran aground in rough seas last month, the coast guard said Friday.
The complaints were made in the form of letters and other paperwork sent to public prosecutors.
Mascarenhas Melroy Joseph Rosa, the 49-year old Indian captain of the Giant Step, is accused of professional negligence and obstructing traffic in relation to an accident in early October that left eight crew dead and two missing, the coast guard said in a statement.
After catching fire near the northeastern Japanese port of Kashima, the Panamanian-registered 98,587-ton ship ran aground in stormy weather. The coast guard rescued 16 of the ship's crew.
The coast guard also alleges professional negligence by Trinidad Felino Jr. Sabado, the Filipino captain of the Panamanian-registered Ellida Ace, and Dong Hong Bo, the Chinese captain of the Chinese-registered Ocean Victory, the statement said.
The 85,350-ton Ellida Ace and 88,853-ton Ocean Victory both ran aground near Kashima on the same day in late October amid heavy winds and high waves.
The coast guard rescued all crew from both cargo vessels. There were no injuries.
Kashima is 60 miles (95 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.
December 13th, 2006, 04:15 PM
Wind probably caused sinking of Brazilian ferry; one passenger presumed dead
12 December 2006
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Heavy wind may have caused a ferry with 132 people aboard to capsize and sink near Brazil's northeastern coast, resulting in the likely death of one passenger, an official Tuesday.
Though no cause has been pinpointed, wind was probably a factor, said Capt. Alexandre de Souza, a spokesman for the Port of Salvador.
He also said a search for the only person not found in the water after the accident was suspended Tuesday because the man is now presumed dead. Authorities will now search beaches in the area for the body of the 61-year-old Brazilian man.
The "Bahia de Todos os Santos" catamaran ferry was traveling into a stiff headwind when it flipped over en route to Salvador from the resort island of Morro de Sao Paulo, about 1,600 kilometers (990 miles) north of the city of Sao Paulo, Souza said.
Passing boats picked up the passengers and crew members after the accident Sunday, but the Brazilian man wasn't found. Authorities searched for him for 48 hours, then suspended the effort because de Souza said the man could not have survived longer in the water.
Authorities ruled out problems with the boat, saying it was seaworthy and carrying all the safety equipment needed for passengers.
December 21st, 2006, 07:55 AM
Estonian commission: no military equipment aboard passenger ferry in 1994 disaster
19 December 2006
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) - An Estonian commission investigating a 1994 ferry disaster in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday urged Sweden to share its information about the disaster that killed 852 people.
The parliamentary commission also said Estonian authorities only found out in 2005 that the Estonia passenger ferry had carried military equipment to Sweden just days before it sank on Sept. 28, 1994.
Only 137 people survived when the ship went down in a Baltic Sea storm en route from Tallinn to Stockholm.
A official commission of Estonian, Finnish and Swedish experts in 1997 blamed faulty bow door locks, the intensity of the storm and human error for the sinking.
That report has since been widely questioned and calls for a new investigation were rekindled in 2005 when the Swedish military acknowledged they had used the ferry to transport abandoned military equipment from the Baltics in the weeks before the sinking.
The military said there was no military shipment on board the Estonia the day of the tragedy and that no weapons or explosives were ever transported on the ship.
In Tuesday's report, the Estonian parliamentary commission said that Sweden carried out the military transports without the knowledge of Estonian authorities.
The report urged Swedish authorities to reveal all their sources of information on the incident, which over the past 12 years has spawned numerous rumors and conspiracy theories.
December 23rd, 2006, 07:21 AM
Final death toll in Mali boat collision is 21
BAMAKO, Dec 22, 2006 (AFP) - Police Friday gave a final death toll of 21 in a collision of two boats on the Niger river earlier this week near Gao in northern Mali.
The accident happened overnight Monday to Tuesday, and police initially found 14 bodies, but said more were feared dead.
"We have stopped looking. There are a total of 21 dead, of whom six are young girls and one a young boy, all drowned," a Gao police official told AFP on Friday.
Seven others were injured, he said.
The accident occured at Barisadji, about 35 kilometres (25 miles) from Gao, when one of the boats crossed over from the river's right side to the left, ramming another boat headed the other way, police said.
"It was imprudence which caused the accident," the police officer said.
Both vessels were pinasses, which are barges bigger than the dug-outs frequently used on African waterways, and carried several dozen passengers and more than 30 tonnes of merchandise, local officials said.
Many people in northern Mali use the river and its tributaries to get around.
January 2nd, 2007, 09:08 AM
Survivors Rescued From Indonesia Ferry
By IRWAN FIRDAUS
1 January 2007
REMBANG, Indonesia (AP) - Rescue ships collected scores of bloated bodies Monday from seas close to where a ferry sank in the Java Sea, but search teams also spotted survivors on life rafts and dropped food and water to them, officials said.
Weeping relatives camped out at ports and a local hospital, desperate for news of the some 400 still missing from the ferry when it sank during a violent storm minutes before midnight Friday.
So far, at least 191 people have been found alive, either packed into lifeboats, clinging on to debris or on beaches after swimming ashore, Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa told reporters. Dozens of bodies have either been spotted or collected.
Radjasa said the search for survivors would continue for at least a week.
Since the ferry went down, officials, hampered by poor communication and the fact that ships are bringing survivors to shore at several ports, have given differing numbers of people saved and bodies collected. The ferry had a capacity of 850 people, but the manifest indicated 638 passengers.
"I am tired of crying," said Sipan, who goes by a single name and who had been staying at Rembang hospital waiting for news of his son. "Dead or alive, I will accept his destiny. It is up to God. All I can do is keep waiting."
Search official Capt. Hadi Siswanto said that rescue boats were picking up bodies Monday that had so far been left in the sea because officials were concentrating their search for survivors. Workers at Rembang Hospital constructed a makeshift morgue.
Rescue chief Eko Prayitno said a helicopter had spotted an unspecified number of people still alive in the sea. The crew dropped food and water to them and boats would try and pick them later, he said.
The Senopati Nusantara sank quickly after being pounded by heavy waves for more than 10 hours on a journey from the Indonesian section of Borneo island to the country's main island of Java.
"I thought I was going to die there and then," said Syahrul, a 21-year-old palm plantation worker who was on the third floor of the ship when it suddenly veered to the left and began sinking.
"I heard people screaming from the second floor, 'Open the door! Help!' Hundreds must have died down there," said Syahrul, who was recovering in a hospital Monday.
Officials say bad weather caused the accident.
Indonesia's tropical waters are generally between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. People have been known to survive days at sea, but only with a buoyancy aid.
Survivors told harrowing stories of the struggle to stay alive in the hours that followed the ferry's sinking.
Waluyo, 50, who goes by a single name, recalled holding onto a large tire and seeing two of his children lose their grip and drown.
"For 17 hours we held on, sometimes being turned over in the swell, but one by one the people fell off, including my two children," he said from a hospital Sunday. "I could not do anything apart from pray."
Indonesia has been wracked by weeks of seasonal rains and high winds that have caused several deadly floods, landslides and maritime accidents. A cargo ship carrying 11 people sunk off Bali island on Sunday, but by Monday all passengers were accounted for, Antara reported.
January 18th, 2007, 04:54 AM
Italians Investigate Deadly Ship Crash
17 January 2007
ROME (AP) - Investigators will need weeks to understand the cause of this week's deadly collision between a container ship and a commuter hydrofoil near the entrance to the Sicilian port of Messina, Italy's transportation minister said Wednesday.
Alessandro Bianchi said in a report to the lower house of parliament that the Coast Guard was tracing the movements of both ships, plus those of a third vessel that was in the area at the time but did not appear to be directly involved in the collision.
Four crew members were killed and about 100 people were injured, including six seriously, in the collision Monday, Bianchi said. The hydrofoil, packed with workers and university students, was approaching Messina after crossing the Strait of Messina from Reggio Calabria.
Prosecutors have placed the captains of the container ship and the third vessel, a ferry, under investigation, as a matter of routine, Italian news agencies Apcom and ANSA reported. The captain of the hydrofoil was killed in the crash.
Bianchi said the hydrofoil was built in 1999 and was last inspected in March. British shipping company Borchard Lines Ltd. said on its Web site that the 6,700-ton container ship was built in 2004 and registered in Antigua and Barbuda.
Hydrofoils are fast-moving, motorized craft that skim over the sea's surface thanks to flat or curved finlike devices attached by struts to the hull which lift up the vessel.
Calabria, the "toe" of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, is linked to the island of Sicily by air and sea routes.
January 18th, 2007, 07:11 AM
Ferry survivors need a 'miracle', says Indonesian vice president
JAKARTA, Jan 14, 2007 (AFP) - Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has admitted there is practically no hope of finding any more survivors from a ferry which sank in high seas two weeks ago.
"Except for a miracle, it will be difficult to seek and find survivors after the KMP Senopati Nusantara sank 15 days ago," Kalla was quoted by the Kompas newspaper's website.
Survivors were still being found up to nine days after the Senopati Nusantara, carrying 600 people, capsized on December 29 en route from Kumai on Borneo island to Semarang.
Search and rescue efforts, hampered by bad weather, found about 250 survivors and 23 bodies. Eastern Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Moechlas Sidik was also quoted by Kompas as saying that 373 people remained missing.
Although the ferry is known to have sunk in an area off the northern Java districts of Rembang and Jepara, search efforts have so far been unable to locate the wreck where many passengers may have been trapped.
Preliminary investigations show weather conditions were to blame for the accident, transport safety officials have said.
The vessel was carrying 542 passengers and 57 crew. It was licensed to carry 850.
Ferries are a crucial link between the archipelago nation's 17,000 islands and frequently carry more people than officially acknowledged.
January 18th, 2007, 11:40 PM
Crew rescued from stricken ship
Twenty-six crew have been rescued from a damaged British container ship in the English Channel 50 miles (80km) off the Lizard in Cornwall.
The crew of the MSC Napoli abandoned ship after it got into difficulties. No-one suffered any major injuries.
The 62,000-tonne vessel took in water through a hole in its side as it made its way through the Channel.
Two helicopters from RNAS Culdrose airlifted all the crew in the French co-ordinated rescue.
Falmouth Coastguard received a distress call from the Napoli at about 1030 GMT after a 1m by 0.5m (3ft by 1ft 6in) hole in its starboard side started letting in water.
The crew of 275m (900ft) long ship, owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company, then abandoned ship for a lifeboat.
The rescued crewmembers were taken back to RNAS Culdrose
Despite storm force winds, the Royal Navy aircraft, from 771 Search and Rescue Squadron, were able to hover above the crew's lifeboat and perform the rescue in what were described by the rescuers as "pretty horrific" conditions.
Weather on scene was south-westerly severe gale force nine (more than 50mph), with 8m to 9m (26ft to 30ft) swells.
The first Culdrose helicopter took about 45 minutes to airlift 13 of the crew before heading back to Cornwall.
The second aircraft brought back the remainder.
One pilot, Capt Damian May, said his aircraft was nearly having to surf the waves.
He said: "Once we come alongside the lifeboat, the waves and the swell were up to 50ft, which effectively meant we were going up and down 50ft in the dips of the swell and the top of the waves while we were trying to maintain station on the lifeboat."
The mixed nationality crew includes two young British cadets, as well as crew members from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Turkey, India and the Philippines.
The Napoli is carrying about 2,400 containers, although its capacity is more than 4,400.
The European Maritime and Safety Agency said the vessel was listed as carrying "dangerous cargo", but coastguards said a small proportion of the containers were believed to contain insecticides and pesticides.
The ship is now in a stable position 45 miles (72km) south east of the Lizard and a salvage contract has been agreed.
Robin Middleton, leading the coastguard salvage response unit, said: "The emergency towing vessel Anglian Princess and a French tug are on scene.
"A French salvage team is being transferred onto the Napoli by helicopter and will assess the stability and integrity of the vessel to decide if the vessel can be towed.
Coastguards hope to tow the Napoli to port
"The current plan is to tow the vessel to a port and discharge the cargo ashore."
Although the ship was holed in its starboard side, it is listing to port. Falmouth coastguards said that may mean she will not sink.
As well as the hole on the vessel's side, the ship also suffered a flooded engine.
All vessels in the area are being warned that they should avoid her.
The 16-year-old vessel is registered to London, and was last inspected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in May 2005 when officials said it met safety standards
Lloydslist reports that there are two holes, one on each side so there is a risk she could split in to...
January 28th, 2007, 06:55 AM
EU urged to adopt maritime safety package after accidents
BRUSSELS, Jan 26, 2007 (AFP) - The European Commission called on member states to hastily adopt its proposals to beef up maritime safety rules after recent accidents off the English and Italian coasts.
Last week a 62,000-tonne cargo ship, the MSC Napoli, ran aground off the south coast of England and four people died and scores were injured in a collision between the Italian island of Sicily and the mainland.
"These two accidents highlight the urgent need to step up Europe's maritime safety measures" said EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
In November 2005, Barrot proposed a maritime safety package that focused firstly on better preventing accidents and then dealing with them when they do happen.
The proposals are the third wave of measures since maritime safety ebbed high on the EU agenda in the wake of the December 1999 sinking of the Erika tanker, which caused a massive oil spill along France's Atlantic coast.
One of the proposals of the most recent package is to draw up a list of refuges where distressed vessels can seek cover before running into deeper trouble out at sea and causing more environmental damage.
The measure is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the Prestige oil tanker disaster. The tanker broke in two in 2002 off Spain's northwestern coast, spilling thousands of tonnes of fuel into the seas after authorities denied it safe harbour.
Under the proposal, ships in distress would be given refuge after the situation is fully assessed and following a decision by an independent authority, free of pressure from local officials, jittery about shipwrecks on their shores.
The commission praised British authorities' handling of the MSC Napoli, noting that their action was based on "independent decisions taken following an objective analysis of the situation, making it possible to avoid a major disaster."
It said that the collision in the Messina Strait illustrated the need to adopt proposals on the compensation of injured maritime passengers, which is another part of the package.
The first two maritime safety packages increased in-port controls and banned single-hulled tankers which transport heavy fuels in EU ports and near European coasts.
February 1st, 2007, 06:54 PM
Beach cleaners fear more oil pollution in southern Spain
ALGECIRAS, Spain, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) - Scores of beach cleaners who have removed some 260 tons of oil-laden detritus from a southern Spanish beach fear there is more to come, local authorities said Thursday.
The oil fuel has been leaking out of a stricken refrigerator ship, the Sierra Nava, which ran aground Monday in high winds in the bay of Algesiras.
The Andalusian regional government's environment department said that teams of more than 100 volunteers and salvage workers had so far removed 260 tons of fuel mixed with sand, earth and sea water, and experts feared that another 170 tons of diesel were still in the ship's tanks.
More than a kilometre (around a mile) of beach has been blackened by fuel seeping from the vessel after two of its four fuel tanks cracked open.
Salvage workers rescued two crew members from the Panamanian-registered vessel before it became stuck in around 50 metres (120 feet) of water.
February 7th, 2007, 03:10 AM
Criminal charges filed in boating wreck that killed 20 elderly tourists
By MICHAEL HILL
5 February 2007
QUEENSBURY, New York (AP) - The captain of a boat that capsized in 2005 in upstate New York, killing 20 elderly tourists, and the cruise line owner were indicted Monday on criminal misdemeanor charges.
A grand jury charged both Shoreline Cruises and Capt. Richard Paris with failing to have enough crew members aboard the tour boat when it flipped over on a lake on Oct. 2, 2005, sending its passengers into the chilly water. Paris was the only crew member aboard; state navigation law required at least two for the 47 passengers on board that day.
The prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence to support more serious charges.
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded last summer that the boat had been modified in a way that made it less stable and should have been allowed to carry only 14 passengers. Investigators believe the vessel was rocked by the wake from a passing boat or boats.
District Attorney Kate Hogan said the indictments would "give the families of the victims the peace of mind that this case was reviewed and no rock was left unturned."
Nine lawsuits have been filed in federal court by survivors and victims' families against the boat operator, tour organizers and others.
There was no answer at Paris' home, and his lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Neither Shoreline nor the lawyer representing the company returned calls.
Associated Press Writer Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.
February 8th, 2007, 05:34 AM
Experts: fuel leak from Norwegian cruise ship in Antarctica caused no environmental damage
7 February 2007
OSLO, Norway (AP) - Diesel fuel that leaked from a Norwegian cruise ship that ran aground in the Antarctic last week has caused no damage to the fragile environment, the Norwegian Polar Institute said Wednesday.
The 123-meter (404-foot) M/S Nordkapp ran aground and damaged its hull near Deception Island, which is part of the Antarctic archipelago's South Shetland Islands on Feb. 1. It pulled off the rocks under its own power, but the 294 passengers were transferred to a sister ship.
According to the institute, which is in charge of Norwegian environmental regulations in the Antarctic, some 500-750 liters (130-200 gallons) of light diesel spilled into the ocean when the Nordkapp's crew tried to transfer the fuel from a damaged tank to one that was intact.
In a news release, the institute said researchers and crews of other cruise ships helped monitor the area and gather samples, which show no damage.
"It is very good that the grounding does not appear to have had any impact on that highly vulnerable environment," said Birgit Njaastad, of the institute's environmental section. Light diesel usually breaks up easily in water, the researchers said.
The Nordkapp had been anchored at a Chilean scientific station in Maxwell Bay, off King George's Island, where British divers temporarily repaired damage to its hull.
In a separate statement, Norwegian Coastal Voyage, which operates the ship, said the Nordkapp would depart Wednesday with an escort ship to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for permanent repairs and a maritime hearing on the accident.
The passengers from Nordkapp were transferred to its sister ship, M/S Nordnorge, and brought to Ushuaia, Argentina late last week.
February 8th, 2007, 10:28 AM
At least 60 feared dead in shipwreck off Cameroon
YAOUNDE, Feb 5, 2007 (AFP) - At least 60 people were feared dead Monday after a passenger ferry operating between the west African states of Cameroon and Nigeria was shipwrecked, a private radio station in Cameroon reported.
An unknown number of passengers were rescued in the accident off the coast of Tiko in southwest Cameroon, 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the economic capital Douala and 250 kilometres west of the capital Yaounde, Satellite FM said.
The station said that likely causes for the tragedy included unfavourable weather conditions, the poor state of the vessel and overloading.
Authorities have opened an enquiry.
Shipping accidents off the Cameroonian coast are frequent. In March 2006 more than 130 illegal immigrants heading from Nigeria for Gabon were drowned when their ship sank off Kribi, south of Douala.
February 13th, 2007, 03:27 AM
France's Total among 15 in the dock over Erika oil spill
PARIS, Feb 12, 2007 (AFP) - France's first trial over a major environmental disaster opened on Monday to decide whether oil giant Total and other parties bear responsibility for the massive oil spill from the Erika shipwreck in 1999.
A 25-year-old rusting tanker, Erika was carrying 30,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil when it sank off France's Brittany coast on December 12, 1999, polluting vast stretches of the Atlantic coastline and killing thousands of seabirds.
Fifteen parties including Total, the tanker owners, a charter company, a vessel classification firm and maritime authorities are in the dock on various charges of endangering lives, causing pollution or failing to respond to a disaster when the trial opens at 1:30 pm (1230 GMT).
Total executive Bernard Thouillin and two of the company's affiliates -- Total Transport Corporation and Total Petroleum Services -- are to answer accusations that they chartered a tanker of dubious seaworthiness in order to meet a tight deadline for delivery of the cargo to Italy.
If convicted of causing maritime pollution, Total could be fined up to one million euros (1.3 million dollars) while a conviction on the charge of complicity to endanger lives carries a maximum one-year prison term and a 15,000-euro fine.
The French state is seeking 153 million euros in damages to cover the cost of the cleanup and recovery of the wreckage while many of the 70 plaintiffs in the case are demanding hefty compensation.
A Total spokesman voiced confidence that the oil firm would be cleared and emphasized that 11 other parties are to come under scrutiny during the trial.
"We consider the allegations to be groundless," said Total spokesman Charles Edouard Ansray. "We are awaiting the outcome of the trial that is to assign responsibility."
The Italian owner of the Erika, Giuseppe Savarese, and his manager Antonio Pollara are to answer charges of negligence and jeopardizing the lives of the 26 Indian crew members of the Erika that broke in two in heavy seas and later sank.
The Indian captain of the vessel, Karun Mathur, has also been charged but he was not in court.
The Italian maritime certification company RINA, a member of its board Gianpiero Ponasso, and the co-owners of the Selmont vessel charter company, Mauro Clemente and Alessandro Ducci are also cited.
The first session of the trial opened with arguments from RINA's lawyer that the company can only be judged in Malta.
Four men responsible for maritime safety and rescue -- Eric Geay, Michel de Monval, Jean-Loup Velot and Jean-Luc Lejeune -- are charged with failing to respond to a disaster.
It has taken seven years for magistrate Dominique de Talance to investigate the Erika disaster in which 20,000 tonnes of fuel leaked into the ocean, dealing a severe blow to local tourist and fishing industries.
The total cost of the damage has been estimated at over one billion euros.
February 21st, 2007, 04:50 AM
18 children, 4 teachers drown, more missing, when boat capsizes in India
20 February 2007
COCHIN, India (AP) - At least 18 children and four teachers drowned when a boat capsized in a river in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a local official said. Another 16 children remained missing.
Three boats were carrying more than 100 students and staff down the Periyar River in the Thattekkad bird sanctuary on Tuesday when one boat capsized, said Mohammad Haneesh, a top official of the district. All the children were younger than 11.
As darkness fell, 16 children were still missing, and 10 had been admitted to a local hospital, he said. Authorities were flocking to the scene to help in the search.
It was not clear how many children were in the boat that capsized.
The Thattekkad sanctuary is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Cochin, Kerala's commercial hub.
February 23rd, 2007, 03:30 AM
Ferry catches fire in Indonesia; nearly 300 people rescued
By IRWAN FIRDAUS
22 February 2007
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - A mother begged a cargo hand to take her 18-month-old daughter after fire engulfed an Indonesian ferry Thursday, then jumped into the sea along with hundreds of other passengers. Sixteen people died and scores were injured.
Heru, who goes by one name, said he tried to scale a rope with the toddler as smoke billowed around him, but was knocked into the water by a falling passenger. He saw the woman clinging to a water cooler and swam toward her.
"The baby was crying 'Mama! Mama! and she insisted I hand over the child," he said. Fifteen minutes later, the two disappeared beneath the dark waves. "Now they're gone."
The Levina 1 was carrying 300 passengers when a pre-dawn blaze broke out in a truck on the car deck hours after the ferry left the capital, Jakarta, for the northwestern island of Bangka, port official Sato Bisri said. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Remarkably, 275 people were rescued from the Java Sea and the 2,000-ton vessel's charred hull by fishing boats, warships and helicopters, averting a second major maritime disaster in Indonesia the last several months. In late December, a ferry sank in a storm in the Java Sea, killing more than 400 people.
At least 17 people were still missing following Thursday's fire, Navy spokesman Hendra Pakan. The search for survivors continued after darkness fell.
"It was terrifying," said Yas Rijal, 33, who was with his wife and son on the upper deck when the fire broke out. "The crew ordered us to put on yellow life vests and we jumped."
Rosiah, 28, who also goes by one name, was among those who did not get a life vest. But as the ferry's deck got hotter, she became increasingly desperate and plunged into the sea with her 5-month-old son.
"I just wanted save my baby," she said, weeping. "I didn't think of the risk."
"We sank for a long time and by the time we came to the surface, he wasn't breathing," Rosiah said. "He was dead, but I couldn't let go. I held onto him for what felt like an hour before being rescued by a fisherman."
She said she did not know what happened to her husband and two other children.
One survivor told AP Television News he was sleeping when the fire started.
"When I woke up, I saw a big fire and I just jumped into the water. All I was thinking was how I had to survive," Tarjani said.
Sunarjo, another survivor, said he swam all morning before being rescued. "If I hadn't torn off my pants I'd probably be dead now," he said.
Most survivors were taken to the port at Jakarta, about 50 miles from where the ship caught fire. The injured were taken to hospitals or cared for at a makeshift treatment center at the port.
Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa said the ferry carried 300 passengers, but the ship's log indicated there were 228 passengers, 42 trucks and eight cars on board. Tallies of ferry passengers are often incomplete and boats overloaded in Indonesia.
In the vast nation of 17,000 islands, ferries are the cheapest and most popular form of public transportation. But safety standards are poor, leading to hundreds of deaths each year.
Last year, Indonesia recorded more deaths from disasters than any other country, according to a U.N. tally, with a massive earthquake on Java killing nearly 6,000 -- the highest death toll in a single event.
Since December, flooding and landslides on Java and Sumatra islands have killed more than 200 people and driven hundreds of thousands of residents from their homes.
Days after the December ferry sinking, a passenger plane operated by a budget airline crashed into the ocean, killing all 102 people aboard.
February 26th, 2007, 03:38 AM
Charred ferry sinks near Jakarta port, as death toll from fire jumps to 42
By ALI KOTARUMALOS
25 February 2007
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Authorities were searching on Monday for three people still missing after the charred wreckage of an Indonesian ferry sank while investigators and journalists were aboard inspecting the damage from a fire last week.
The gutted wreckage had been anchored near Jakarta's port when it suddenly listed and sank with 16 people on board, several of the journalists said. A cameraman was killed, while another and two police were missing. Four people were seriously injured.
"We all rushed for our own safety as the ship suddenly tilted and submerged," Mardianto, a journalist who goes by one name, told his el-Shinta radio station. "I was on the third deck, and had to jump into the water."
The accident occurred hours after fishermen and navy officers recovered the bodies of 22 people killed in Thursday's fire, raising that death toll to 42. The bodies included a teenager and a baby.
The Levina 1 was carrying at least 330 passengers when the fire broke out in a truck on the car deck, sending hundreds of people jumping into the sea, some clinging to young children. More than 290 people were rescued in waters 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Jakarta in Indonesia's second maritime disaster in recent months. In December, a ferry sank in a storm, killing more than 400.
Divers searching the sunken ship found none of the victims from Sunday's accident, said Dadang Arkuni, chief of the Jakarta Search and Rescue Agency. "The bodies usually float to the sea surface after six hours," he said.
"It happened so quickly," Lt. Col. Hendra Pakan told The Associated Press. "The ship almost completely disappeared into the sea."
Eko Widodo, a MetroTV reporter, said the ferry started sinking about five minutes after journalists got on board. He said he saw the missing cameraman struggling to maintain his footing while holding onto his camera.
"We told him to throw the camera away but he did not want to," Widodo told his TV station.
He said authorities provided life vests but the reporters chose not to wear them.
"It was our own mistake," he said. "I nearly drowned ... but eventually pulled my body up to the surface and then was helped by another man."
March 1st, 2007, 02:33 AM
Indonesia ferry disaster toll rises, president eyes better safety
JAKARTA, Feb 28, 2007 (AFP) - The death toll from Indonesia's latest ferry disaster rose to 54 by Wednesday as the country's president told passenger boat operators to improve safety.
The latest body found was a journalist missing after the Levina I ferry, which caught fire Thursday last week, killing scores of people, sank near a harbour in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.
The body was retrieved Tuesday, the same day rescuers found the bodies of two policemen who also disappeared when the listing, charred vessel sank. All three had boarded the wreck to investigate its remnants.
Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself took a ferry trip Tuesday amid criticism of the country's transport sector following three major disasters since December, which have killed hundreds of people.
The president called on passenger boat operators to improve safety, the Kompas newspaper reported.
"During the trip we have seen and asked other passengers, and it turns out there is still a lot that needs to be fixed so as to provide a better service for them," Yudhoyono was quoted as saying.
The president said he had seen for himself breaches of safety regulations. He also called on ferry operators to check the cargo on their vessels more thoroughly.
"There should be no vehicle carrying dangerous materials or goods," he reportedly said.
The Levina I had been towed to just outside Jakarta's Tanjung Priok port from the site of the fire when it sank Sunday with investigators on board.
Estimates suggest more than 350 people were on the passenger and vehicle ferry when flames engulfed it, though the exact number remains unclear.
About 250 were rescued, more than 50 are believed to be missing and the number of confirmed dead is 54. The search for bodies continues.
"Five navy ships are combing the waters around the Seribu islands today," Hendra Pakan, a spokesman for the Western Fleet, said Wednesday, referring to a series of islands north of Jakarta.
Search operations are to end Thursday, Bambang Karnoyudho, the head of the agency responsible for the effort, told the Detikcom online news service.
Police detained a number of people following the disaster and the government revoked the ferry operator's permit for declaring fewer passengers on its manifest than it was actually carrying.
Recent air, sea and rail accidents in Indonesia have been blamed on the lax enforcement of safety regulations, poor maintenance and a lack of investment in transport infrastructure.
Ferries are a crucial link between the archipelago nation's 17,000 islands and frequently carry more people than officially acknowledged.
March 1st, 2007, 09:34 PM
think the most famous ship misfortune was the Titanic-disaster or?
March 19th, 2007, 08:14 AM
Marooned tanker poses risk to Spanish shoreline: ecologists
MADRID, March 18, 2007 (AFP) - Ecological associations on Sunday warned of a potential risk to Spain's southern coastline from an oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar carrying 40,000 tonnes of fuel which ran aground in the area.
Greenpeace and the Verdemar ecological pressure group demanded authorities take action to extract the fuel after the Greek tanker Samothraki ran aground about a kilometre off Gibraltar and was towed to port Saturday in the British dependent territory.
The Gibraltar government said inspection of the vessel had shown it to be in good condition and added that its cargo posed no risk of leakage and no danger to the environment.
But a Greenpeace spokesman told Spain's Europa Press news agency that the incident "again throwns into sharp relief the constant dangers" to which the Bay of Algeciras abutting Gibraltar is exposed.
According to the organisation, an average year sees between 4,000 and 5,000 vessels sail through the Strait of Gibraltar.
Spain is highly sensitive to the risk posed by vessels negotiating its coastline following the major environmental disaster which struck four years ago when the Prestige oil tanker went down off the northwestern region of Galicia.
On that occasion, the worst environmental disaster Spain has known, some 64,000 tonnes of fuel leaked out and polluted beaches as far away as southwestern France.
June 19th, 2007, 04:46 AM
Greece fines owners, captain of sunken cruise ship for marine pollution
18 June 2007
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The owners, operator and captain of a cruise ship that hit the rocks off the island Santorini and sank were fined a total of $1.57 million Monday for polluting the Aegean Sea.
The Sea Diamond leaked an estimated 300 tons of fuel into the sea since sinking off the island two months ago.
Nearly 1,600 people, Nearly 1,600 people, most of them Americans, including two dozen students from North Carolina, were evacuated from the Cypriot-owned ship on April 5, but two French tourists are missing and presumed drowned. The Sea Diamond sank the next day, with some 450 tons of fuel and lubricants in its tanks.
The ship's owners, Louis Group, operators Louis Cruise Lines and Greek captain Yiannis Marinos were fined for polluting the sea and the coast near the shipwreck and failing to submit a final action plan to pump the remaining fuel from the hulk, the Merchant Marine Ministry said.
A ministry announcement also accused the companies and captain of not monitoring the effect of the pollution on marine life in an environmentally sensitive area.
The ministry added that Santorini port authorities already have imposed additional daily fines of $12,000 on the shipowners for pollution -- adding up to some $750,000 in the past two months.
Marinos, 35, and five other crew members are still facing criminal charges of negligence. Greek authorities and Louis Cruise Lines blamed the shipwreck on human error.
A Louis Group spokesman said the company would not comment on the fine for now.
But Michalis Maratheftis defended the company's clean-up efforts, handled by a private Greek contractor.
"Our people are doing an exceptional job," he said. "The area is perfectly clean."
Vassilis Mamaloukas, an environmental engineer leading the clean-up for contractor Environmental Protection Engineering SA, said the operation is going "very smoothly."
"The operation on the beaches is close to completion," he told The Associated Press.
"My personal assessment is that most of the fuel has already seeped out of the tanks, judging by the quantities we have picked up on the surface. We have collected some 250-300 tons, and a quantity has also been gathered on the coast."
Mamaloukas said the marine clean-up "will take months," using a floating boom deployed round the shipwreck.
June 25th, 2007, 05:45 AM
31 Dead As Boats Sink in North India
23 June 2007
LUCKNOW, India (AP) - Twelve members of a wedding party were among 31 feared drowned overnight in two separate boat accidents in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.
"Two passenger boats sank killing 31 people in two different incidents," Anupam Shashank, a senior government official told the Associated Press from the state capital Lucknow. He said only five bodies had been recovered.
In the first incident, 19 people drowned when an overcrowded boat carrying 25 people sank midstream in the Yamuna river in Kaushambhi district, 15 miles southeast of Lucknow.
Six people swam to safety but the others drowned, Shashank said.
In the second incident a boat carrying 17 members of a wedding party sank in the Ganges river near Mirzapur, 200 miles southeast of Lucknow.
"Twelve people are feared dead and five swam to safety," said Deputy Inspector General S.N. Sabat. "Initial reports suggest that the boat was overloaded. Besides people, it was carrying marriage gifts, including a motorcycle and a double bed."
The bride and groom survived as they were traveling in another boat, he said.
Both accidents took place late Friday.
Boat accidents are common in impoverished Uttar Pradesh state. Boats used to ferry passengers are generally poorly maintained and people seldom use life jackets.
July 10th, 2007, 05:52 AM
Container ship whose grounding sparked looting frenzy has been refloated off British coast
9 July 2007
LONDON (AP) - A container ship that ran aground off southern England and drew thousands of looters has been refloated, a coast guard official said Monday.
Salvage workers spent the morning draining 58,000 tons of water from the MSC Napoli, said Maritime and Coast Guard Agency spokesman Fred Caygill.
"It's come away, it's been turned around, and it's now facing out to sea," Caygill said. "The idea has been to refloat the vessel so that we can give divers the ability to check the hull integrity."
The ship was deliberately run aground off of England's Branscombe beach, about 165 miles southwest of London, during a violent storm in January. Its crew was rescued, but oil leaking from its engines killed thousands of sea birds, and more than 100 containers were washed ashore, where they were picked apart by looters.
The wreckage was eventually cleaned off the beach, the oil slick was contained, and the remaining containers were removed from the Napoli's deck.
A decision on what to do with the ship awaits the divers' survey of the hull.
July 12th, 2007, 12:02 PM
Some recent maritime disasters off Indonesia
11 July 2007
Recent Indonesian maritime disasters:
-- July 11: A passenger ship carrying 70 people disappears off eastern Indonesia after reporting engine failure in stormy seas. The bodies of two children are found drifting in nearby waters along with several survivors.
-- Feb. 22: Fire on a ferry carrying 330 people kills 42. Three days later, the charred vessel capsizes as accident investigators and journalists inspect it, killing one.
-- Dec. 29, 2006: A crowded Indonesian ferry breaks apart and sinks in the Java Sea during a violent storm, killing more than 400 people.
-- June 22, 2006: A ferry carrying 116 people capsizes in bad weather off western Sumatra island, but rescue teams recover almost all of the passengers.
-- April 18, 2006: A ferry carrying 60 people sinks in bad weather in eastern Indonesia, but nearly all are rescued or swim to shore.
-- March 25, 2006: A dozen people die when a large vessel carrying 21 people and a cargo of rice sinks in heavy seas off Sumatra island.
-- July 7, 2005: About 200 people die when a ferry capsizes in rough seas off eastern Indonesia.
July 13th, 2007, 03:16 AM
Greece unveils plan to protect ship passengers with bill of rights
11 July 2007
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greece plans to introduce a bill of rights that would allow inconvenienced ship passengers to demand compensation from ferry companies, the government said Wednesday.
Legislation providing for a "passenger bill of rights" would be introduced in parliament in coming days, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said, and would take effect by month's end -- just in time for Greece's peak tourist season.
The provisions would apply to ferry and hydroplane passengers.
The bill of rights, modeled after established programs for air travelers, would grant passengers the right to claim compensation -- including money and free accommodation -- from coastal shipping companies for delayed or canceled boat trips and also for poor service.
The legislation would also require every passenger ship to have a medical doctor aboard.
Kefaloyiannis, who met Wednesday with Prime Minister Coastas Karamanlis, said companies could face fines of up to $687,100 if found to be in breach of the new rules. He also announced new investments for upgrading 11 ports around the country.
Greece expects more than 16 million visitors this year, and Kefaloyiannis said up to 7 million Greek and foreign tourists are expected to travel this summer by ship to island destinations from the three ports near Athens.
The largest of these, Piraeus, is chronically choked with passenger traffic in the summer months, while departures are frequently delayed because of tight scheduling and spotty ship maintenance.
July 17th, 2007, 05:35 AM
Spain Deals With Oil Spill Near Island
14 July 2007
MADRID, Spain (AP) - Fresh oil leaks from a recently sunken ship threatened Saturday to coat beaches and coves on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, even as crews cleared tons already spilled in the area, officials said.
Divers detected the latest oil leaks from the merchant ship "Don Pedro" after failed attempts to seal cracks in the wreck, said Josep Lliteres, environment director general for Spain's Balearic Islands.
The ship had been sailing from Ibiza to the eastern port city of Valencia when it hit rocks and sank Wednesday with 150 tons of fuel oil and 50 tons of gasoline on board.
Divers had tried to seal a crack which by Thursday had created an oil slick 3.5 miles long and a half-mile wide, Development Minister Magdalena Alvarez said.
The government has decided to try and remove the oil remaining inside the sunken vessel, rescue service spokeswoman Pilar Tejo said.
Cleanup crews, meanwhile, tried to prevent an environmental problem on the island, one of Spain's Mediterranean beauty spots, as summer holidays begin. Some 30 tons of oil were cleared by Saturday.
Three Ibiza beaches -- Talamanca, Ses Figueretes and Platja de Bossa -- were closed while crews cleaned up the spill.
July 19th, 2007, 06:08 AM
Pilot incarcerated for 2003 New York City ferry crash released after serving 15-month sentence
18 July 2007
NEW YORK (AP) - The former Staten Island ferry pilot who blacked out at the helm before a deadly 2003 crash has been released from prison, having served a 15-month sentence.
Assistant Capt. Richard Smith, 58, walked out of Devens Federal Medical center in Ayer, Massachusetts, on Tuesday and boarded a flight from Boston to New York, where he was reunited with his wife and loved ones.
"If I could say anything to take away the victims' pain, I would," Smith said shortly after leaving prison. "But there's nothing to say."
In what is considered the worst mass transit disaster in New York's history, Smith was piloting the Staten Island ferry in October 2003 when he passed out, suffering from fatigue and on painkillers. The ferry drifted out of control and crashed into a pier, killing 11 people and leaving dozens maimed and injured.
"Every time I think about it, I feel sick," Smith said.
After the accident, Smith fled the scene and tried to kill himself. He pleaded guilty in 2004 to negligent manslaughter and to lying to authorities about his medical history.
August 5th, 2007, 05:20 PM
Fewer passengers in SLeone boat capsize, little hope of survivors
FREETOWN, Aug 4, 2007 (AFP) - Authorities in Sierra Leone said Saturday there was little hope of finding any more survivors of a ferry disaster that killed at least 58 people, but indicated the loss of life was less than feared.
"The available information is that there were over 80 people in the boat and not the number that was initially thought," a police official said.
The Amunafa, a coastal ferry powered by outboard motors, which capsized in bad weather on Thursday night, was originally said by a Freetown port official to have been carrying some 200 passengers.
Two people were rescued alive, while 50 bodies were recovered by local fishermen and eight more by naval search teams.
Continuing bad weather threatened to put an end to the search by police and naval teams for bodies and eventual survivors.
"We are still combing the area in search of more bodies but so far, nothing has been found," the police official said.
"Raging winds and torrential rains are hampering our continued searches. If it contunues, we shall have to suspend the exercise," the official added.
"However, it is doubtful if anyone could survive in such climatic conditions," he said.
The flat-bottomed Amunafa, which was also carrying some 300 sacks of rice, went down off the mouth of the Little Scarcies river some 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of the capital on its way to the village of Rokumi, near the border with Guinea.
The accident, at the beginning of the rainy season, was one of the worst in the country in recent years.
Coastal ferries are frequently overloaded with both passengers and cargo, and the wreck of the Amunafa brought a new warning to proprietors who push captains into taking unacceptable risks for profit.
"We warn again the boat captains that they should not ply their vessels when the weather is bad, putting the lives of their passengers in danger," Tom Sisey of the Sierra Leone Boatowners Association said.
"Also they shall not overload their vessels, we will discipline those of our members who put the lives of their passengers in danger."
October 22nd, 2007, 11:51 AM
Search team hunts Indonesian ferry survivors
JAKARTA, Oct 20, 2007 (AFP) - A search team hunted Saturday for survivors or victims of an Indonesian ferry that sank off Sulawesi island this week but it remained unknown how many people were missing, officials said.
At least 31 people were killed after passengers climbed to the roof of the 22-metre (-yard) Acita 03 seeking a better cell phone signal as it approached the coast, causing it to capsize Thursday evening.
The wooden boat had been heading from Tomea island to Bau Bau on Buton island, about 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) northeast of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.
Media reports said 125 people were rescued following the accident that occurred just a few miles from Bau Bau.
"A search team comprising members of various groups are still looking for more victims of the accident. The ship captain does not know what the exact number of passengers was so we will just search for whatever we can get," a local policeman, Idwar, told AFP.
He said the search will push on for at least four more days.
Though only 60 people were officially on board, Indonesian ferries frequently carry far more passengers than the number registered.
Local officials have said around 188 people were on the ferry but so far no people have come forward to police to report missing relatives or friends.
The boat however was carrying passengers mostly from remote Tomea which has no landline phone connections and takes a day to reach by ferry from Bau Bau, 150 kilometres away, Idwar said.
The director of Bau Bau's main hospital, Aminuddin, said one patient being treated there died overnight and a body that workers were reportedly trying to free from the boat had not turned up so the death was unconfirmed.
Sea links are crucial in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of about 17,500 islands, but safety standards are frequently lax or not enforced and a string of deadly accidents have occurred in recent years.
November 10th, 2007, 05:02 PM
Some oil in San Francisco Bay spill will linger in water, be absorbed, authorities say
9 November 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Most of the oil that spilled into San Francisco Bay when a Chinese-owned container ship struck the Bay Bridge will never be retrieved and eventually will be absorbed into the ecosystem, authorities said.
The U.S. Coast Guard, which was heading the response to the 58,000-gallon (219,547-liter) spill, acknowledged miscommunication with local officials, but insisted Friday it did not impede their efforts to corral the oil.
Tides carried the heavy fuel that poured from the ship's oil tank under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific Ocean, fouling miles of coastline, closing several beaches, canceling weekend outdoor events and threatening thousands of birds and other marine life. It is believed to be the biggest spill in the bay since 1988.
The pilot who was guiding the container ship away from the Port of Oakland when it hit the bridge piling Wednesday said he had notified authorities immediately, and soon after alerted them that there was a sheen of oil on the water, his attorney said in a statement.
It took cleanup crews at least 90 minutes to respond, "which, of course, allowed the spill to spread," said the statement from Capt. John Cota's attorney, John F. Meadows.
Coast Guard logs of the day's events shows a response team on the scene in about a half hour, but it took much longer for oil-skimming vessels to arrive.
Rear Adm. Craig Bone conceded the agency should have done a better job keeping local authorities informed. "That is not acceptable," he said.
"What I want to impress upon people is, there was an immediate response, there was an immediate response to prevent further loss, there was an immediate response to gather as much as you possibly can," Bone said.
Oil skimmers and shoreline cleanup crews continued mopping up the damage. But as the oil spreads and dissipates, crews will find "diminishing returns" in their skimming efforts, said Barry McFarley, whose private recovery firm the O'Brien Group was hired by the ship's owner to handle its response to the spill.
On Friday, 9,500 gallons (35,960 liters) of oil had been sucked up. Lt. Rob Roberts, an investigator with the California Department of Fish and Game, said by the weekend most of the oil will be beyond containment and capture. Most of the fuel will dissolve into the water, but some globules could remain and cause problems for birds for months.
"Oil and feathers don't mix," said Yvonne Addassi, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Fish and Game. "This is not good for the birds."
Fish and Game officials said they have received hundreds of reports of oiled birds found on Bay Area beaches. So far, 73 live birds have been recovered and sent to a recovery center in Solano County; 17 were found dead.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency after meeting with state, federal and local officials overseeing the cleanup. The proclamation makes additional state personnel, funding and equipment available.
"This has done tremendous damage to the environment, to wildlife and to the birds," the governor said. "We have to clean up as quickly as possible."
City officials have said they were not given accurate information about the size of the spill until 9 p.m. Wednesday, more than 12 hours after the accident.
A new set of Coast Guard logs that surfaced Friday suggested the agency had concluded by 4:49 p.m. that 58,000 gallons had spilled, rather than the 140 gallons reported earlier. That contradicted a different Coast Guard log obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday. It said that at 4:49 p.m., the Coast Guard believed 400 gallons had escaped.
Bone, the Coast Guard's top official in California, did not explain the delay.
The ship, called Cosco Busan, had just left the Port of Oakland and was proceeding to sea when it hit a tower beneath the western section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It caused no structural damage to the span, but the vessel's hull suffered a large gash.
Investigators continue to puzzle over why the ship, one of hundreds that pass under the bridge each year, struck the tower. The pilot was one of the most experienced of the seamen who guide massive ships through the bay's treacherous waters.
"How does a ship, with that much space available, how does a ship hit the bridge?" Schwarzenegger asked Coast Guard officials as he was shown a map of the bay and where the vessel struck the bridge.
"That's what we're investigating," answered Coast Guard Capt. William Uberti, captain of the Port of San Francisco. "That shouldn't have happened."
According to chief investigator G. Ross Wheatley, the pilot and the shipping company could face civil penalties. He said Cota had answered every question asked of him.
November 11th, 2007, 06:38 PM
Russian oil tanker sinks in Black Sea storm
MOSCOW, Nov 11, 2007 (AFP) - Five-metre (16-feet) high waves smashed apart a Russian tanker on Sunday, spilling 1,300 tonnes of fuel oil off Ukraine's Black Sea coast in what environmentalists called an "ecological catastrophe."
Three other cargo ships including two carrying sulphur also sank as winds of up to 108 kilometres (67 miles) per hour battered the Kerch Strait separating the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov.
Fears were growing for the fate of 20 missing sailors as weather conditions worsened. Several other ships were also missing.
A total of 40 vessels were evacuated from the port of Kavkaz, a busy Russian commercial port some 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) south of Moscow, officials said. Ten others were forced to stay in the port because of the storm.
Some 300 kilometres further west, the high winds sank a cargo ship with 17 sailors on board. Two were rescued and 15 were still missing, officials said.
Five more sailors were missing from a ship that sank in the Kerch Strait.
"This is a major ecological catastrophe," Vladimir Slivyak, head of Ekozashchita, or Ecodefense, a Russian environmental group, was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
"The pollution that has taken place will have to be cleaned up for a long time to come and the consequences will be felt for a year or even more."
Oleg Mitvol, head of the Russian government's environmental monitoring agency Rosprirodnadzor, said: "This is a serious environmental accident that will require a large amount of work.
"This problem may take a few years to solve," he said on the Vesti-24 news channel.
Prosecutors have opened a criminal inquiry for pollution, reports said.
The prow and the stern of the oil tanker, called Volgoneft-139, tore apart in the storm and "around 1,300 tonnes of fuel oil were spilled," a transport ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
Thirteen crew members were stranded in the stern and were later rescued but efforts to limit the oil spill were being hampered by harsh weather conditions, officials said.
A spokesman from the Emergency Situations Ministry said a second fuel oil tanker, the Volgoneft-123, had also been damaged in the storm and there had been an "insignificant spill" from the ship.
In November 2002, the Liberian oil tanker Prestige broke up and sank, spewing 64,000 tonnes of fuel oil into the waters and fouling thousands of kilometres (miles) along the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal.
Russia and Ukraine have set up a joint crisis centre to deal with Sunday's disaster and aircraft were on standby to fly to the area as soon as the weather allows, officials said.
The Volgoneft-139 was carrying fuel oil from the southern Russian city of Samara on the Volga River to an oil terminal in Ukraine, agency reports quoted a Russian official as saying.
November 13th, 2007, 07:55 AM
30,000 birds dead in Russian oil spill, regional governor says
12 November 2007
PORT KAVKAZ, Russia (AP) - More than 30,000 birds have been killed by the thousands of tons of oil that leaked after a heavy storm broke a tanker apart near the Black Sea, according to the governor of the disaster-hit region.
Countless other birds, weighed down by thick coatings of the fuel oil, hopped weakly along the shore or sat helplessly in the sand Monday. Workers with pitchforks and shovels started the backbreaking labor of gathering up vast clumps of oil mixed with sand and seaweed.
The spill from a tanker that split apart Sunday in the strait connecting the Black and Azov Seas is seen as potentially the worst environmental disaster in the region in recent years. It prompted criticism that many Russian tankers aren't seaworthy.
"Some 30,000 birds have died and it's not possible to count how many fish. The damages are so great that it's hard to assess. It can be equated with an ecological catastrophe," said Alexander Tkachev, the governor of the Krasnodar region, Monday, according to the Interfax news agency.
Another regional official, Sergei Zaitsev, was quoted as saying that much of the oil still on the water's surface could congeal in the wintry temperatures, forming globs that drop to the seabed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to fly to the region to assess the disaster and clean-up efforts.
As many as 10 ships sank or ran aground in the storm, including the freighter Nakhichevan, which broke up and spilled a load of sulfur, officials said. The bodies of three sailors from the Nakhichevan washed up on shore Monday and rescuers were looking for five missing crewmen, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Sergei Kozhemyaka.
Two other freighters carrying sulfur also sank.
Russian environmental officials said the sulfur spilled from the freighters did not appear to pose any environmental danger. Jim Farr, a chemist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, compared the spill to dumping a load of sand in the water and smothering a reef, or covering a patch of grass with a blanket.
However, he said that it was difficult to know the long-term effects without better knowledge of the area's depth and currents.
The Volganeft-139 tanker was carrying about 4,800 metric tons (1.3 million gallons) of fuel oil when the storm sundered it. About half its load has leaked out already, officials estimated. The craft's 13 crew members were rescued.
Alexei Knizhnikov, head of the World Wildlife Federation's Russian oil and gas program, said the Volganeft-139 was constructed for river use and was unfit to endure severe weather at sea.
"In the Kerch Strait, river vessels and sea vessels change cargoes, as sea vessels cannot enter the Don and Volga rivers because of small water draft. But vessels constructed for rivers cannot stand strong sea storms," he said.
Anatoly Yanhuck, a regional coast guard officer, said workers would begin pumping oil from the tanker once the weather improves, then tow the ship to port. Investigators would be looking at the actions of the ship's captain, but he said the weather appeared to have been worse than forecast.
Vesti 24 television on Sunday reported the sinking of a Russian freighter carrying metal near the port of Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Two members of its 16-man crew drowned and one was missing, it said.
Maxim Stepanenko, a regional prosecutor, told Vesti 24 that captains had been warned Saturday about the stormy conditions. He said the Volganeft-139 -- designed during Soviet times to transport oil on rivers -- was not built to withstand a fierce storm.
November 21st, 2007, 05:06 AM
Reports: ship captains ignored Black Sea storm warning that resulted in oil spill
20 November 2007
MOSCOW (AP) - Two Russian officials suggested Tuesday that the captains of the ships that sank or ran aground during a fierce storm in the Black Sea were to blame for the accidents, Russian news agencies reported.
The storm Nov. 11 wrecked an oil freighter in the Kerch Strait separating Russia and Ukraine, resulting in a spill of 2,000 metric tons (560,000 gallons) of fuel oil that soiled miles of coastline and killed thousands of birds. The storm battered almost a dozen vessels in the strait.
Nikolai Lityuk, the acting head of the regional Emergency Situations Ministry, was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying that another 42 vessels that had sailed into the sea after forecasters issued a storm warning were not damaged.
"The decision has been made by the captains of the vessels, who had blind faith in sheer luck. However, the final answer on the extent of guilt will be given by investigators," Lityuk was quoted as saying.
Alexander Bedritsky, the head of the federal meteorological service Rosgidromet, said forecasters gave ships plenty of warning.
"The warning was issued with ample advance notice -- 10 hours. It's important not only to have prompt issuance of a warning but also prompt use of this information," he was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying.
Officials have called the oil spill an environmental disaster that could inflict lasting damage on marine life.
November 25th, 2007, 04:23 PM
In from the cold: some notable Antarctic rescues
PARIS, Nov 23, 2007 (AFP) - The most famous Antarctic rescue of all time took place in the middle of World War I, when the British explorer Ernest Shackleton managed to bring home his crew after 20 months stranded in extreme conditions.
All 28 members of the Shackleton expedition survived after the explorer and five of his companions made an 800-mile (1,300-kilometre) ocean crossing in an open boat to get help.
Some more recent incidents:
- January 2000: Thirty parachutists from various nations are airlifted off an Antarctic base three weeks after being stranded by bad weather. They had intended to make a group jump from an aircraft to usher in the year 2000.
- July 2002: An Argentinian icebreaker manages to reach a German scientific vessel which has spent five weeks trapped in ice with 108 people aboard.
- December 2003: A South Korean scientist dies when an inflatable boat he is travelling in capsizes in Antarctic waters. Seven other members of the expedition are rescued by a Chilean helicopter.
- January 2007: A Norwegian cruise liner picks up 200 passengers from another Norwegian vessel which has hit an obstacle off Antarctica.
- April 2007: 269 people, including scientists, take to lifeboats after fire breaks out aboard an Argentinian icebreaker they are travelling on. All are rescued.
- November 23, 2007: Over 150 people, mostly tourists, are taken off a cruise ship after it hits an iceberg off the southern coast of Chile.
November 30th, 2007, 03:27 AM
Oil Spill Fuels Debate in Ship Industry
29 November 2007
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Eric Robinson stepped onto the bridge of the container ship Horizon Pacific and peered at a computer monitor depicting San Francisco Bay. Ship icons blipped clearly in the virtual water, but the meaning of some of the other symbols was murky.
Robinson, a San Francisco ship pilot, makes his living guiding supertankers, naval vessels and cruise ships through the bay's treacherous waters, and his job is to adapt quickly. But he never knows what electronic navigation gear he will face when he takes the helm. And he thinks that should change.
The government, the International Maritime Organization and the shipping industry are exploring how to bring some order to the jumble of electronic navigation aids proliferating on the seas -- a movement that has been given greater impetus by an accident in San Francisco Bay earlier this month.
On Nov. 7, a 901-foot container ship sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, gashing its hull and dumping 58,000 gallons of sludge-like bunker fuel. It was the bay's worst oil spill in nearly two decades.
While the cause of the accident is still under investigation, the pilot in that episode told authorities there was confusion between him and the ship's captain over symbols on an electronic charting system while the vessel Cosco Busan made its way through a fog bank.
"An international standardization of bridge equipment like radars and electronic navigation equipment -- to me, that would be the legislation I would like to see come out of this," Robinson said during an interview as he set a course for Hawaii.
As the sun set over the Port of Oakland two weeks after the spill, and cranes loaded containers aboard, Robinson carefully reviewed the electronic charting system with the ship's captain.
"You want to make sure you're looking at what you think you're looking at," Robinson said.
Such a thorough briefing is not always possible in the high-pressure world of international shipping, where captain and pilot are often from different countries, as was the case aboard the Cosco Busan.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard are looking into the possibility of miscommunication, perhaps even a language barrier, in the Nov. 7 incident. The Cosco Busan's pilot also said his two radar displays became distorted.
The nation's 1,100 state-licensed pilots frequently board vessels out at sea for the last part of the inbound journey. Out there, the pilot is often confronted with busy shipping lanes, heavy radio traffic and poor visibility or darkness.
Robinson said fiddling with equipment in those moments is the last thing he wants to do.
"I've seen at least a dozen different electronic charts and dozens of radar displays," Robinson said. "Bridge markings, buoy markings, depth contour curves, what measurements the depths are in, whether they're in fathoms, feet or meters -- basically every aspect of the chart other than the outlay of the land could be different."
Some pilots, frustrated by the varying systems, have begun carrying their own laptops loaded with familiar charting software onto the ships, he said. The laptops can be plugged into the ship's navigation equipment.
Robinson is eager to see a new system in which a pilot could hit a button that would prompt the electronic charts to revert to a "standard mode," or default setting, that would be uniform across all manufacturers and show charts with standard symbols.
Many proponents of this system argue that "technology may be getting out in front and changing faster than mariners can keep up with it," said Paul G. Kirchner, executive director and general counsel of the American Pilots' Association. Kirchner emphasized he does not believe pilots necessarily need such a system, because they receive such extensive training.
Nevertheless, the pilots association is studying the standard mode approach. "We think there's value" in this approach, Kirchner said.
Robinson's primary tools of the trade are his eyes, and during his run aboard the Horizon Pacific, he referred to the electronic charts only occasionally. It was dark but clear by the time the container ship was fully loaded with Christmas trees, Army weapons cartridges, ice cream, wine and cars.
But when fog, haze or rain close in, pilots turn to radar and the electronic charts. The Horizon Pacific was equipped with a sophisticated electronic charting program called Coastal Explorer. A desktop computer ran software that flashed real-time data about the ship and others in the area, as well as hazards, depths, buoys, bridges and docks.
The Cosco Busan had similar gear. In its report on the incident, expected out next year, the NTSB will look at the role navigational aids played, and at the differences in symbols between charting systems across the industry, board spokesman Peter Knudson said. The board sometimes recommends policy changes.
The International Maritime Organization, the U.N. body that regulates the global shipping industry, is studying the issue of standardizing the devices and the symbols they use, Kirchner said.
One possible hurdle would be in getting manufacturers to agree on uniform standards when several have invested a great deal of money in proprietary systems, said Chris Philips, editor of Pacific Maritime Magazine.
"It's hard for the Coast Guard to say, `Throw all your equipment away and buy from this guy,'" Philips said.
December 8th, 2007, 04:40 PM
Oil from damaged supertanker blackens shore in South Korea's largest oil spill
8 December 2007
MALLIPO BEACH, South Korea (AP) - Thick, smelly waves of crude washed ashore Saturday from South Korea's largest ever oil spill, turning seagulls black and threatening fish farms along a 17-kilometer (11-mile) stretch of scenic and environmentally rich coastline.
Nearly 2,200 troops, police and residents used buckets to remove the dense crude from Mallipo -- one of South Korea's best-known beaches and an important stopover for migrating birds, including snipe, mallards and great crested grebes.
The Coast Guard, which was leading efforts to contain the spill, said that the area of shoreline affected by the disaster had more than doubled by Saturday evening from seven kilometers (four miles) earlier in the day.
The oil started hitting beaches one day after a Hong Kong-registered supertanker was slammed early Friday by a South Korean-owned barge that came unmoored from its tugboat in rough seas.
A total of 66,000 barrels (10.5 million liters; 2.7 million gallons) of crude gushed into the ocean, more than twice as much as in South Korea's worst previous spill in 1995.
Cho Yoo-soon, who runs a raw fish restaurant at Mallipo beach, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) southwest of Seoul, said the situation was overwhelming.
"We can't even walk around here because the entire beach is covered with oil," she said, adding that a full day of clean-up efforts had made no progress. "I don't think even two months are enough to clean all this up," she said.
The affected areas are home to 181 maritime farms that produce abalone, brown seaweed, laver, littleneck clams and sea cucumbers, said Lee Seung-yop, an official with the Taean county government, which includes the beach. Sea farmers in the areas number about 4,000, he said.
"A lot of damage is feared to these farms, although we don't have an estimate yet," Lee said.
Environmental activists expressed despair.
"It's helpless," Lee Pyong-gook of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, said of the situation. "It's a sea of oil."
He said the region is a major stopover for migratory snipe. "It was fortunate that those birds have yet to arrive," he said. He added, though, that some seagulls had been coated with oil.
The Coast Guard dispatched 62 ships and five helicopters to battle the spill, but struggled with high waves and strong winds that were pushing the sticky mass toward shore.
The accident occurred about 11 kilometers (seven miles) off Mallipo. The area also includes a national maritime park.
The Coast Guard said it was unclear how many days the operation would take.
"We're doing our best to remove the contamination as quickly as possible, but it will take some time to clean up the shore because it needs to be done by hand," said Kim Woon-tae, a Coast Guard official stationed in the region.
"It's a difficult operation because weather is not good," Kim said. "We're focusing our efforts on preventing more oil from reaching the coast."
Kim said oil was still trickling out of a hole on the punctured tanker, but it would soon be sealed completely. The Coast Guard headquarters had said Friday that all three holes in the tanker were plugged. Kim did not explain the apparent discrepancy.
"This is an enormous accident ... The smell is so strong that it causes a headache," said Lee Hee-yol, a village leader at Mallipo. "We've asked the government to declare this region a disaster zone."
Kim Kyung-chul, an official at the National Emergency Management Agency, said such a declaration -- which would make residents eligible for government financial aid -- was not yet being considered.
The government, however, designated the oil spill a "disaster," he said, which makes it easier for regional governments in the affected areas to mobilize personnel, equipment and material to cope with the situation.
The size of the leak reported by the authorities would be about one-fourth that of the 260,000 barrels, or 11 million gallons, spilled into Alaska's Prince William Sound by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
South Korea'a latest spill was also much smaller than one in Pakistan in 2003 when a Greek-registered ship ran aground near Karachi, leaking some 28,000 metric tons (195,940 barrels; 8.2 million gallons) of crude that polluted the city's main beaches.
The Coast Guard said the South Korean accident occurred Friday morning, when a crane-carrying barge en route from a construction site lost control after a wire linking it to the tugboat was cut due to high winds, waves and currents. The vessel then slammed into the Hebei Spirit oil tanker. Neither ship was in danger of sinking and there were no casualties.
The tanker had been at anchor and carrying about 260,000 tons -- about 1.8 million barrels -- of crude oil to be loaded into boats from a nearby port.
Cho, the raw fish proprietor, said restaurants in the area were closing, adding that she could not pump fresh sea water into her tanks.
"Without fresh sea water the fish will start going bad after a week," she said.
Associated Press writer Jae-Soon Chang in Seoul contributed to this report.
December 11th, 2007, 03:46 AM
SKorea's worst oil spill spreads along coast
TAEAN, South Korea, Dec 10, 2007 (AFP) - South Korea's worst-ever oil spill spread along a pristine coastal area Monday, fouling beaches and marine farms, as the government faced accusations it acted too slowly to limit the disaster.
Almost 9,000 troops, police and volunteers armed with shovels and buckets struggled to clean up the huge crude oil slick. Officials said it would deal a huge blow to tourism and oyster and abalone farms in the area.
The oil had hit 169 farms and 14 beaches as of Monday evening and was still spreading south, said officials in Taean county 110 kilometres (69 miles) southwest of Seoul.
Some 140 ships and five planes were helping the clean-up but the Coast Guard said the slick has already hit 50 kilometres of coastline.
Park Myung-Jae, home affairs minister, said four townships would be declared a disaster zone, making them eligible for extra compensation.
Park vowed immediate aid of 5.9 billion won (6.4 million dollars) and said more state funds would be forthcoming soon.
But fishermen at Uihangri village, where 150 farms are located, were in shock. "It is a complete disaster," said oyster farmer Lee Nam-Kyu, 64.
Northwest winds were quickly pushing the slick south along the coast, said Lee Jae-Hak, of the Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute.
"Damage was bigger than expected because of wrong weather forecasts by the authorities," Lee told AFP, saying they failed fully to take seasonal winds into consideration after booms were set up.
Lee said it may take months or a year to remove oil from the land surface, "but it will take four or five years to remove chemicals and other pollutants."
About 10,500 tons of crude leaked into the Yellow Sea when a drifting barge carrying a construction crane smashed into an oil tanker Friday.
The barge's cable to a tugboat had snapped during rough weather before it holed the 147,000-ton Hong Kong-registered Hebei Spirit in three places.
Officials reported difficulties contacting the tug captain to warn him of the imminent danger.
The captain did not respond to a radio warning message about the tanker's presence in the area, said Song Hee-Sun, a regional maritime ministry official.
Officials then tried to call his mobile phone but when they finally got through, it may have been too late to prevent the collision, Song told AFP.
"He is under questioning by police. So we cannot say whether he is responsible or not," he added.
The leak from the tanker, which was anchored eight kilometres off the coast, was only completely stopped early Sunday. The oil spill is about twice the size of South Korea's previous worst such case in 1995.
The US Coastguard has offered help in the clean-up, the foreign ministry said. There was no information on whether the offer had been accepted.
Newspapers blasted what they called a slow response. "Precious time was lost in preparing seaside communities for the impending ecological disaster," a Korea Herald editorial said.
"Equipment to contain the oil spill was not distributed promptly, leaving villagers helpless as they watched the oil move ashore."
The JoongAng Ilbo said it suspects "authorities tackled the accident in a loafing and idle manner."
Shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries, which operated the barge and tug, said the tanker's owner would be able to receive a maximum 300 billion won (326 million dollars) through an insurer to cover damage from the spill.
Samsung was responsible for compensating the owner, a spokesman said.
"We are awaiting the outcome of an investigation by police. But we are basically responsible for the incident," the spokesman said. "We will not swerve from our duty."
December 12th, 2007, 09:45 AM
CHRONOLOGY-Some of the world's top oil tanker spills
Dec 10 (Reuters) - More than 100 ships and thousands of troops were cleaning blackened South Korean beaches on Monday, after slicks from the country's worst oil spill coated birds in tar and cast a foul smell over a nature reserve.
The spill on Friday, caused when a barge struck a Hong Kong-registered crude carrier, has covered west coast shores in oil up to 10 centimetres deep in places.
Here is a chronology showing some of the world's worst oil spills at sea since the largest recorded tanker spill in 1979.
* July 19, 1979, CARIBBEAN: Greek oil tanker the Atlantic Empress collides with another vessel spilling 287,000 tonnes of oil into the sea off Tobago, in what is the world's biggest oil spill due to an accident at sea.
* March 24, 1989, U.S: The Exxon Valdez hit rocks in Prince William Sound spilling some 34,000 tonnes (240,000 barrels) of crude oil onto Alaskan shores. The $2.5 billion clean-up effort, and overall cost of $9.5 billion including fines and claims, is the costliest on record.
* Dec 19, 1989, MOROCCO: After explosions and a fire, Iranian tanker Kharg-5 was abandoned spilling 70,000 tonnes of crude oil, endangering the coast and oyster beds at Oualidia.
* Dec 3, 1992, SPAIN: Greek tanker Aegean Sea runs aground and breaks in two near La Coruna spilling most of its 80,000 tonne cargo of oil.
* Jan 5, 1993, UK: The tanker Braer hits rocks near the coast of the Shetland Islands shedding its cargo of 85,000 tonnes of crude in the worst oil wreck in British waters for 26 years.
* March 31, 1994, UAE: 15,900 tonnes of crude oil leaks into the Arabian Sea after the Panamanian-flagged Seki collided with the UAE tanker Baynunah 10 miles off the UAE port of Fujairah.
* Feb 15, 1996, UK: Liberian-registered Sea Empress hit rocks near Milford Haven, Wales, spilling 40,000 tonnes of oil.
* Jan 2, 1997: JAPAN: Russian tanker, the Nakhodka, containing some 19,000 tonnes of oil is torn in two in the Sea of Japan causing one of the worst oil spills in Japan's history.
* Dec 13, 1999, FRANCE: The stern of the Maltese tanker Erika sinks off the northwest of France after splitting in two. It was carrying 25,000 tonnes of viscous fuel oil.
* Nov 19, 2002, SPAIN: The Bahamas-flagged tanker "Prestige", carrying 77,000 tonnes of fuel oil, sinks off the northwest coast of Spain six days after running into trouble in heavy seas.
* July 27, 2003, PAKISTAN: Oil tanker Tasman Spirit runs aground close to Karachi and splits in two, spilling 28,500 tonnes into the sea. Pakistan demands $1 billion compensation for environmental damage for the disaster, its worst oil spill.
* Dec 7, 2007, SOUTH KOREA: Hong Kong-registered tanker Hebei Spirit leaks 10,500 tonnes of crude oil into the sea after colliding with a barge in South Korea's worst oil spill.
December 24th, 2007, 03:17 AM
Human Error Blamed for Worst Oil Spill
21 December 2007
The nation's largest oil spill on the West Sea was found to have been caused by human error, an interim report said.
About 1,900 metric tons of crude oil spilled after a crane on a barge that came unmoored from its tugboats punched holes in a Hong Kong-registered tanker in strong winds in waters off Taean County, South Chungcheong Province, on Dec. 7.
Announcing an interim report on the inquiry into the accident, the Coast Guard said the captains of the tugs and the barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries had direct responsibility for the spill, after sailing in rough seas. They knew that a warning for strong tides was issued five hours before the crash, but set sail without taking counter-measures to avoid the dangers.
The captains also failed to respond to two emergency radio calls from the Daesan Port authorities hours before the crash.
According to investigators, two hours before the crash, the captains belatedly decided to head toward safety, but it was too late owing to winds as strong as 14 meters per second. The towline between one of the tugs and the barge was severed 14 minutes before the barge crashed into the tanker, they said.
The Indian captain of the tanker also knew of the dangers of a crash but couldn’t move swiftly or take preventative measures, they said. ``The captain could not take full and necessary measures to avoid the crash although he knew a ship was approaching after losing control in bad weather,’’ said Choi Sang-hwan, chief of the Taean Coast Guard.
December 27th, 2007, 09:44 AM
Hopes fade for 14 missing seamen in SKorea: coast guard
SEOUL, Dec 26, 2007 (AFP) - South Korea Wednesday resumed an air and sea search for 14 seamen missing after their freighter sank but officials said it would be a miracle to find anyone still alive.
The chemical carrier Eastern Bright, carrying 2,000 tons of nitric acid, went down in rough seas off the southern port city of Yeosu before dawn Tuesday.
A Myanmarese seaman was rescued about five hours afterwards but 12 Koreans and two Myanmarese remain unaccounted for.
"It would be a miracle if we could find any more survivors in the cold water," a spokesman for the Yeosu Coast Guard told AFP.
A total of 35 navy and coast guard vessels, including a navy minesweeper equipped with sonar, and four aircraft were searching the area.
The navy said the minesweeper late Tuesday detected what is thought to be the sunken ship, a 80-metre-long (264-feet) vessel resting on the seabed 60 metres below the surface and some 20 miles (32 kilometres) east of Geomun island.
Another coast guard spokesman said authorities would lower an underwater camera for verification of the ship's identity. "If confirmed, we would discuss how to salvage her, which would be a very difficult operation."
The coast guard said there was no sign yet of any leakage of the toxic chemical, kept in stainless steel containers in the double-hulled freighter, and played down fears of a pollution hazard from the acid.
Apart from ships searching for the crew, eight vessels were cleaning up a thin oil slick around the shipwreck site from the vessel's fuel.
The freighter left Yeosu on Monday night and was bound for Taiwan. It sent a distress signal at around 4:20 am Tuesday (1920 GMT Monday).
The rescued sailor, a 29-year-old Myanmarese identified as Myotei, said after regaining consciousness in hospital that the ship sank within 10 minutes after shaking and tilting on its side.
The survivor said he heard no sound of any collision. He said he put on a lifejacket before the ship sank but the others were unable to do so.
Earlier this month South Korea suffered its worst-ever oil spill when a tanker leaked 10,500 tons of crude off the west coast after being holed by a drifting barge. No one was hurt in that incident.
January 17th, 2008, 05:17 AM
South Korean town fights for life after oil spill
TAEAN, South Korea, Jan 16 (Reuters) - A month after South Korea's worst oil spill, blackened west coast beaches have been cleaned by more than 1 million volunteers but residents are struggling to pick up shattered lives.
The fishing industry has died and tourism has dried up. Last week, fisherman Lee Young-kwon killed himself by drinking pesticide in despair over losing his oyster farm.
"Why did you have to die when the people who sprayed black oil on your oyster farm are living and breathing," Lee's daughter Nan-sook said at a memorial service this week, where more than 10,000 residents gathered.
Mourners spoke of Lee as a gentle and loving father. They also tried to console each other over livelihoods ruined by the spill and a government response they feel came too slowly and offers too little to help them rebuild.
The coast of the Taean region, about 150 km (95 miles) southwest of Seoul, was covered in crude oil as deep as 10 cm a month ago, when 10,500 tonnes spilled from a Hong Kong-registered tanker that had its hull punctured in a collision with a Samsung Heavy Industries' seabound crane.
A nature preserve was blackened. The air reeked of sulphur. Volunteers tossed dead birds covered in oil in plastic bags. Tar balls washed up ashore, soaking the fine sand on beaches popular with tourists and then fell to the sea floor.
South Koreans responded to their worst oil spill by forming one of the country's biggest volunteer movements to remove the oil and scrub the coast.
DAMAGE TO LAST YEARS
Conservationists said even though the beaches are now mostly clean, the damage from oil in the seabed will last for years, killing fish, marine plants and plankton.
"The damage is still serious even one month later," said Lee Bo-ok, a Johnson & Johnson employee who travelled with her colleagues from Seoul to volunteer, using an absorbent cloth to wipe muck off rocks.
Conspicuously absent from the clean-up efforts on Monday were the residents of Taean as they gathered for the memorial service for Lee, leaving the ports, seafood restaurants and stores eerily quiet.
Anger is mounting among the 70,000 residents as they wait for more government help and an apology from the owners of the vessels involved in the spill.
"Does the government think 300 billion won ($320 million) will solve the problem?" said community leader Kim Jin-mook.
That is the value of low-interest loans the government has offered in addition to the 30 billion won in direct payments being made to affected residents.
Yonhap news agency said, due to red tape, it may take more than a year before any compensation is paid to a population mostly made up of fisherman who live day to day from their catch.
Residents say many will likely be wiped out financially before they receive any payments from the government.
"Samsung as the cause of the disaster must bring Taean back to life," community leader Kim said, in a call for action echoed by thousands present at the service.
Fisherman Chung Nak-chu said: "The ocean is dead so what do we live for now? This was our lifeline for thousands of years that fed our children."
February 2nd, 2008, 05:29 PM
Port officials arrested after DR Congo boat disaster
LUBUMBASHI, DR Congo, Jan 31, 2008 (AFP) - Police have arrested two port officials at Kalemie in southeastern DR Congo for alleged negligence after a ferry disaster claimed 17 lives and left dozens of people missing, police said.
"By order of the district commissioner, agents Morisho Awabo and Katanda Kyessa have been arrested for failing in their duty," Sadiki Kandolo, the officer in charge of the probe into the accident, told AFP.
Awabo was in charge of harbour safety and Kyessa responsible for passenger lists at the port on Lake Tanganyika in Katanga province, where the maritime inspection service reported the tragedy on Wednesday.
The typically overloaded barge struck a rock about five kilometres (three miles) from the port on the Democratic Republic of Congo side of the vast, deep lake that is also shared by Tanzania, Burundi and Zambia.
The bodies of nine children were among those so far recovered, but a search was still under way, Kandolo said.
The ferry left Kalemie with a passenger manifest of 58, but there were "at least 150 people on board", one of the 120 passengers who were rescued told AFP.
The governor of Katanga Province on Thursday provided a boat to help the survivors return to their home villages, on the lake shore.
Lying in the Great Rift Valley, finger-shaped Lake Tanganyika is one of the largest lakes in Africa, with large populations of hippopotamuses and crocodiles.
"There were 58 passengers on the manifest, but we know there were a lot of unlisted passengers as well. The operators always take as many as possible," port official Xavier Kasimbo said Wednesday. "We'll never know for sure exactly how many people were on board."
The barge operated a regular service between Kalemie and Moba, situated some 150 kilometers (95 miles) to the south. As well as too many passengers, it was also believed to be heavily overloaded with various goods.
"It's always like that," said one maritime inspector. "A boat only leaves when it's completely full -- when there's no space for even one more passenger, or one more container."
Ferry disasters are relatively common on Congolese waterways, with overloading the most common cause of accidents.
Lake Tanganyika is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest.
February 27th, 2008, 07:20 AM
Brazilian river ferry death toll rises to 14
BRASILIA, Feb 22, 2008 (AFP) - The confirmed number of people drowned when a ferry sank on Brazil's Amazon River rose to 14 on Friday with the recovery of three more bodies, a rescue commander told the state Agencia Brasil news agency.
Fire services commander Antonio Dias said operations were continuing to locate up to five other passengers still missing following the sinking that occurred before dawn Thursday when the ferry collided with a barge.
Those killed comprised eight children, four women and two men, he said.
The ferry, the Almirante Montero, was carrying around 110 people when the accident happened near Novo Remanso, a riverside hamlet close to the town of Itacoatiara in northwest Brazil.
It struck a freight barge in poor visibility and rapidly sank beneath the water.
Ninety-two of those who had been on board made it to shore. Several others, though, were swept away by the powerful current.
According to officials, the barge, which stayed afloat, did not stop to provide help. An investigation has been opened to determine which vessel was at fault.
March 4th, 2008, 06:56 AM
Bangladesh ferry toll reaches 45, police say
DHAKA, March 2, 2008 (AFP) - Rescuers in Bangladesh found six more bodies Sunday as the death toll from a ferry accident last week near Dhaka reached 45 with several still missing, police said.
Divers and police found the dead bodies several kilometres (miles) downstream from the spot of the accident on the Buriganga River, two days after authorities called off the salvage operation, police sub-inspector Nazrul Islam said.
"Five to six people are still feared missing. Their relatives have launched a separate search for the bodies in the river," he said, adding that police and fire brigade divers would continue the search.
The ferry, which was carrying about 150 people, sank in deep water on Thursday after being hit from behind by a boat transporting sand.
Army, fire and coast guard personnel took part in the search as thousands of local people including distraught relatives looked on.
Officials said 31 bodies were recovered late Thursday, while a further eight were found trapped in the submerged boat when it was raised by a rescue ship.
They added that it was likely more than 100 passengers had swam to safety and returned home without reporting to the authorities.
Deadly ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, which is criss-crossed by a network of about 230 rivers which millions of people use for transport.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 people have lost their lives in ferry sinkings since 1977.
March 14th, 2008, 06:50 PM
South Korea oil spill devastates marine life: official report
SEOUL, March 13, 2008 (AFP) - South Korea's worst oil spill has devastated marine life, halving the number of sea plants and mollusks found off the western coast, a government report said Thursday.
The oil leak also threatened the underwater food chain, endangering fish and sea birds, the Environment Ministry report said.
Surveys following the spill last December showed mollusk populations had plunged to 56 creatures of five species per square metre from 133 creatures of eight species as mussels were found to have been considerably contaminated by remnants of crude oil.
The density of seaweeds per square metre fell 43 percent from February 2007 and phyllospadix iwatensis, a seagrass, also declined 47 percent.
"Because seagrasses and seaweeds make up the lowest part of the ocean food chain, there are risks of second-hand contamination of fish and birds that are at the top of the food pyramid," the report said.
The surveys, the first since the oil spill, were carried out in order to set up plans to restore damaged beaches and sea farms.
Hong Kong-registered supertanker Hebei Spirit spilled 10,900 tons of crude after it was rammed by a Samsung Heavy Industries barge in rough seas off Taean county on December 7.
Scores of marine farms and kilometres (miles) of beaches were devastated and three people in Taean, about 110 kilometres (70 miles) southwest of Seoul, killed themselves in frustration over delays in compensation.
Five people -- the skippers of the barge and of the two tugs, and the tanker's captain and chief officer -- are on trial on charges of negligence and violating anti-pollution laws.
Samsung Heavy Industries and Hebei Shipping, a Hong Kong corporation which owns the tanker, have also been charged with violating anti-pollution laws.
Local residents called for comprehensive restoration measures, claiming most sea creatures were wiped out following the spill.
"Oysters, crabs or octopuses have already gone. Even sea slugs or abalones are hard to find in the sea," Kang Tae-Chang, 47, was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
Lim Hyo-Sang, 60, said he was worried further damage might occur as spring arrives and temperatures rise, causing heavy tar balls that have sunk to surface again.
Angry residents have protested against previous delays by local officials in distributing compensation from the central government.
Samsung Heavy Industries said last month it was donating some 107 million dollars to help victims, which they rejected as inadequate.
South Korea has reported to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds that the spill destroyed the livelihoods of 40,000 households and polluted 300 kilometres of shoreline, 101 islands, 15 beaches and 35,000 hectares (86,000 acres) of fish farms.
March 16th, 2008, 07:26 AM
any website showing pics about maritime disasters? :cheers:
September 12th, 2008, 07:26 PM
French judge issues warrants over Senegal ferry disaster: lawyer
12 September 2008
Agence France Presse
A French judge issued international arrest warrants Friday for nine Senegalese officials over the 2002 sinking of the Joola ferry, Africa's worst maritime disaster, a lawyer for the French victims said.
The officials targeted over the accident, which left 1,863 people dead including 22 French nationals, include Senegalese former prime minister Mame Madior Boye, a French judicial official confirmed.
The ferry Joola capsised in stormy seas off Gambia on September 26, 2002 while sailing between the southern Senegalese territory of Casamance and the capital Dakar.
Licensed to carry 550 people, it had 1,927 passengers on board when it sank.
Only 64 people survived the accident which claimed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, in which 1,563 died.
Among those on board were students, school children and artists from around Senegal as well as nationals from elsewhere in Africa and Europe.
January 14th, 2009, 03:51 PM
Survivors of Indonesian ferry recount horrors
12 January 2009
PAREPARE, Indonesia (AP) - Ferry passenger Baco was fast asleep in the Indonesian ship's lower, economy-class deck when sea water rushed in and swept away about 20 children within seconds as he looked on helplessly.
"They were just sucked away," he said, sobbing as he recalled how the boat suddenly capsized before dawn Sunday in a cyclone off the coast of Indonesia's Sulawesi island, killing hundreds aboard.
More than 230 passengers and crew were missing and presumed dead at nightfall Monday, following a day of intense searching amid high waves and strong winds.
At least 33 people have been rescued so far and one body found. But hopes were fading that anyone else would be found alive.
Baco, a father of five who was taking the ferry to Borneo to look for a job with an oil company, described the sudden horror of the scene.
"Many people were still sleeping when the water came to the second deck just above the engine room," said Baco, 40, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.
"Around 20 little children were taken by the sea. I could do nothing," he said, weeping as he described the screams of the drowning.
Baco clung to a piece of plastic foam and drifted for five hours before joining another man on a life raft. They were later picked up by fishermen.
Another survivor, Sampara Gassing, floated on a tire for two hours before he was rescued.
"I lost hold of my son and my father-in-law when a big wave hit me," said Gassing, 35. "People were screaming, 'Help, help!'"
The bodies of Gassing's 9-year-old son and father-in-law have not been recovered.
A search and rescue operation with four warships, helicopters and aircraft found just one survivor and a woman's body Monday. The mission was hampered by strong winds and waves higher than 13 feet (4 meters), in what officials said were dangerous remnants of tropical Cyclone Charlotte.
The 700-ton (635-metric ton) Teratai Prima radioed that it was in trouble just before dawn Sunday. It capsized about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of western Sulawesi.
The captain -- who also survived -- was being investigated for allegedly ignoring warnings from the Indonesian weather agency that conditions on the crossing were too dangerous.
The accident was most probably caused by extreme weather, rather than technical problems, the National Transportation Safety Committee concluded after initial inquiries.
Boats are a major form of transportation in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands. Poor enforcement of safety regulations and overcrowding causes accidents that claim hundreds of lives each year.
In December 2006, a crowded Indonesian ferry broke apart and sank in the Java Sea during a violent storm, killing more than 400 people.
Associated Press reporters Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos in Jakarta contributed to this article.
January 14th, 2009, 03:52 PM
Some recent maritime disasters off Indonesia
11 January 2009
Associated Press Newswires
Recent Indonesian maritime disasters:
-- January 11, 2009: A ferry carrying more than 260 passengers and crew sinks in a storm off the coast of Sulawesi island.
-- July 11, 2007: A passenger ship carrying 70 people disappears off eastern Indonesia after reporting engine failure in stormy seas.
-- Feb. 22, 2007: Fire on a ferry carrying 330 people kills 42. Three days later, the charred vessel capsizes as accident investigators and journalists inspect it, killing one.
-- Dec. 29, 2006: A crowded Indonesian ferry breaks apart and sinks in the Java Sea during a violent storm, killing more than 400 people.
-- June 22, 2006: A ferry carrying 116 people capsizes in bad weather off western Sumatra island, but rescue teams recover almost all of the passengers.
-- April 18, 2006: A ferry carrying 60 people sinks in bad weather in eastern Indonesia, but nearly all are rescued or swim to shore.
-- March 25, 2006: A dozen people die when a large vessel carrying 21 people and a cargo of rice sinks in heavy seas off Sumatra island.
-- Jan. 31, 2006: At least eight die when an overcrowded ferry carrying more than 160 people sinks amid 10-foot (3-meter) -waves on the western side of Timor Island.
-- July 7, 2005: About 200 people die when a ferry capsizes in rough seas off eastern Indonesia.
February 15th, 2009, 03:24 PM
SKorea court limits compensation by Hong Kong tanker
9 February 2009
Agence France Presse
A South Korean court Monday accepted a request to limit the total compensation payable by the owner of a Hong Kong supertanker, which has been partly blamed for causing the country's worst oil spill.
The court in the western town of Seosan said the total amount payable by the owner of the supertanker Hebei Spirit will be limited to 142.5 billion won (103.1 million dollars).
"The decision will help us start the lengthy process of deciding the amount of compensation payable to each victim," court official Bang Dong-Gap told AFP.
"The process is expected to take up to five years, and we expect more than 120,000 people to file for compensation," he added.
The spill happened when a barge carrying a construction crane broke free after a cable linking it to one of two tugs snapped in rough seas in December 2007.
The barge, owned by Samsung Heavy Industries, rammed the anchored 147,000-ton supertanker. The ship was holed in three places and 10,900 tons of crude oil was spilled, coating miles of beaches.
An appeal court found that Samsung was mainly to blame for the accident and confirmed prison terms passed by a lower court on the Korean tugboat skippers.
But it also maintained that the tanker crew chiefs failed to act promptly to minimise the spillage and jailed the Indian captain and chief officer.
The tanker officers are now on bail pending an appeal to the supreme court. International shipping groups said they were blameless and have strongly criticised the prison sentences.
The International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund has estimated damage from the spill may total 573.5 billion won.
Some 7,500 fishermen have launched a compensation lawsuit against Samsung Heavy Industries. In December the firm asked a court to limit the total compensation it should pay to five billion won, but no decision has been reached.
Residents and fishermen have demanded greater compensation from Samsung.
February 20th, 2009, 04:00 AM
Estonia rules out new Baltic ferry probe
19 February 2009
Agence France Presse
The Estonian government ignored claims of a cover-up and ruled out Thursday a new probe into the 1994 Baltic Sea ferry disaster, dashing the hopes of relatives of the 852 victims.
Government spokeswoman Kateriin Leini told AFP ministers had reviewed a report by a commission which upheld previous findings and concluded there were insufficient grounds to launch a new investigation.
The ferry "Estonia" sank on the night of September 28, 1994, as it sailed from the Estonian capital Tallinn to Stockholm in Sweden.
All but 137 of the 989 passengers and crew on board perished. Most of the victims were Swedish.
An international probe in 1997 ruled that faulty bow doors which gave way in a storm had caused the accident, the worst in the Baltic in peace time.
Estonia and Sweden opened new investigations in 2005 after many relatives of the dead, shipping experts and politicians claimed the ferry went down following an explosion.
An acknowledgment by Sweden that Soviet military equipment was carried on the ferry on several occasions in 1994 gave credence to the theory.
Estonia had broken free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991, but the Red Army only left the country on August 31, 1994.
An Estonian report issued in 2007, said chemical analyses had ruled out an explosion, at least near the bow doors.
But a relatives' association has continued to push for a brand new investigation.
The bow-door fault still "must be considered to be the most likely scenario of the sinking of the ship", said a follow-up Estonian study examined by the government Thursday.
It said that other theories "cannot be convincingly refuted by theoretical studies based on the existing evidence."
But it also suggested there was little sense going back to the drawing board because "yet another revision of the testimonies would not give any more certainty about any of the suggested scenarios of the sinking of the ship."
The United States has acknowledged it holds documents about the disaster but that they cannot be released for security reasons, further fuelling those who think there is more to the sinking.
March 22nd, 2009, 07:01 PM
Greenpeace slams Spanish judge over oil spill decision
21 March 2009
Agence France Presse
The environmental group Greenpeace Saturday condemned as "unacceptable" the decision by a Spanish judge to clear Spanish authorities of any responsibility in the 2002 Prestige oil spill.
"It is unacceptable that the public authorities... were exonerated of all responsibility," the head of Greenpeace Spain, Mario Rodriguez, said in a statement.
The organisation accused Spanish authorities of having sparked Europe's worst oil spill by acting in an "erratic" manner and by preventing the ship from approaching the coast of the northwestern region of Galicia as it was in difficulties during a storm.
On November 19, 2002, the Liberian-flagged oil tanker broke up and sank off Galicia, a region famed for its pristine coastline and ecological diversity.
The ship spewed out 64,000 tonnes of thick, heavy fuel oil into the waters, polluting thousands of kilometres (miles) along the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal.
A judge in Galicia on Friday concluded her investigation into the disaster and upheld charges against three Greek crew members.
Spanish prosecutors argued the three obstructed attempts to steer the vessel away from the coast, heeding radio messages from the Prestige's Greek managers rather than instructions from Spanish authorities.
But the judge exonerated the director general of Spain's merchant marine service at the time, Jose Luis Lopez Sors, and Spanish authorities in general, ruling that the decision to prevent the ship from approaching the coast was "sensible and reasonable."
April 2nd, 2009, 04:13 AM
Hebei Spirit oil spill was caused by tugboat errors
25 March 2009
A LITANY of errors by the tugs involved in South Korea’s worst oil spill have been identified by Hong Kong’s Marine Department as the main probable causes and contributory factors of the casualty.
The failings are identified in an information note on safe towage at sea published by the department in response to its official accident investigation into the collision between a crane barge and the tanker Hebei Spirit.
The three-page document said: “The decision for the tugs and the crane barge to commence the towing voyage when adverse weather had been forecast is the main probable cause of this accident.
“Other contributory factors were: the towing voyage was not carried out in accordance with the conditions stipulated in the towing survey certificate; towing wire not properly maintained; the tugs did not alert the local vessel traffic service and the nearby vessels when they lost control of the navigation.”
The note is the department’s first public comment on the casualty, which occurred when the Hong Kong-registered tanker was hit by a drifting crane barge that had broken its tow during stormy weather on December 7, 2007.
The barge was being towed by two tugs with a third back-up vessel, but the tow cable to one of the tugs broke and the second vessel did not have sufficient power to prevent the crane barge drifting out of control into the tanker.
The master and chief officer of the tanker are on bail pending an appeal after being jailed last December for not doing enough to prevent oil pollution.
Department director Roger Tupper told Lloyds List: “The merchant shipping information note is issued by Hong Kong Marine Department, so its contents reflect the findings of our investigation.”
Hong Kong, as the tanker’s flag state, has yet to publish its investigation report on the collision between the barge and the single-hull very large crude carrier.
The department’s marine accident investigation and shipping security policy chief, Leung Hou-kin, added that the full accident report would be published once the legal case in South Korea was over.
The note pointed out that after the collision the crew of the Hebei Spirit tried to reduce the pollution by transferring oil from the damaged tanks and rigging collision mats at the side of the damaged cargo oil tanks. The master also pumped ballast to the starboard ballast tanks with the intention to list the VLCC to starboard and lower the oil level in the damaged tanks.
“These remedial actions appeared to have reduced a certain amount of oil spillage and have fully complied with the provisions as laid down in the shipboard oil pollution emergency plan,” the note said.
Despite these actions, the ship’s master Jasprit Chawla and chief officer Syam Chetan were accused by a South Korean court of not doing enough to prevent about 10,500 tonnes of oil leaking from the damaged cargo tanks.
The note, which has recently been issued to shipowners, ship managers, operators, masters and officers, said the master in charge of the tugs might have underestimated the severity of the rough weather.
The towing wire was also found to be a used crane runner wire that had been stored for some time.
“Crane wires tend to be of different construction when compare with a towing wire due to their different mode of operation. Use of improper tow wire could be dangerous because of possible shock loading and chafing of the wire while engaging in towing,” the Marine Department note added.
June 23rd, 2009, 03:31 PM
Filipino ferry owner, skipper to face charges
23 June 2009
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Philippine justice officials on Tuesday approved the filing of criminal charges against the owner and missing captain of a huge ferry that capsized last year during a typhoon, killing hundreds of people.
The charges of negligence stem from a criminal complaint filed by victims' families accusing the owner of the 23,800-ton Princess of the Stars of ignoring storm warnings, said Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera.
Of about 800 passengers and crew, only 33 survived after the ferry overturned in the storm-swollen waves and fierce winds near central Sibuyan Island on June 21, 2008.
Authorities have identified more than 400 bodies, and 316 others are believed to be trapped in the wreckage, whose bow is still jutting from the sea, Transport Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista said.
If convicted, Sulpicio Lines Inc. official Edgar Go, the respondent in the complaint, could face up to six years in prison. The company is facing a separate civil case.
Go did not comment immediately, but Sulpicio Lines said last year that the ferry left Manila with coast guard approval, although storm warnings had already been raised.
The body of the captain, Florencio Marimon, has not been recovered, Devanadera said.
Coast guard officials said last year that they approved the voyage because the storm signal was weak but that the captain should have the final word, taking into consideration weather conditions along the way.
Justice officials say the skipper and others in charge of the ferry should have canceled the trip.
"They should have practiced extraordinary diligence considering the very bad weather at the time," Devanadera told The Associated Press.
State prosecutors will continue the investigation to determine if about eight others accused in the case should also be indicted, she said.
Senior State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio, who headed the investigation, said she would file the charges later Tuesday in a regional trial court in Manila, where the ferry originated.
About 50 relatives of victims threw white flowers into Manila Bay during a memorial Mass on Monday. A cardboard replica of the ferry was released into the bay, where it slowly sank in the waves.
Sulpicio Lines also owned the Dona Paz, which sank in December 1987 with 4,340 people onboard after colliding with a fuel tanker in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster. Two other ferries that it owned also sank before the Princess of the Stars.
July 10th, 2009, 03:00 PM
Oil spills at record low in 2008 despite increase in tanker trade
9 July 2009
OIL spills by tankers last year were at the lowest level since records began, with just 2,000 tonnes of pollution, according to figures from the International Tanker Owners’ Pollution Federation, cited in the annual report of Intertanko.
To put the achievement into context, the trade association added that the previous low was in 2001, with 8,000 tonnes spilled. The 2008 figure represents a reduction of three-quarters on the previous best performance.
Intertanko statistics noted six oil pollution incidents. The largest spill was from barge DM932, which collided with a tanker in New Orleans, spilling 1,570 tonnes of its fuel oil cargo.
Some 400 tonnes of fuel oil escaped from a pipe leak while bunkering a tanker at Donges refinery in western France, and another pipe leak caused a spill of roughly 200 tonnes at Provestenen Terminal in Copenhagen.
Some 10 tonnes of oil spilled due to a defective loading hose when processed crude was loading into a shuttle tanker in the North Sea, while 30 tonnes of fuel oil spilled off Busan, South Korea, after a collision between a small tanker and fishing boat.
Finally, a small product tanker spilled around 15 tonnes of fuel oil alongside in Tarragona, Spain.
Overall, the number of accidents involving tankers fell 4% to 312 incidents, despite tanker trade increasing 6.4% in the first nine months of 2008, according to Fearnleys. These figures include 25 piracy attacks, compared with just two in 2007.
Some 45% of these incidents involved tankers of less than 10,000 dwt, mostly not engaged in international trade, while 35% involved vessels above 30,000 dwt.
July 10th, 2009, 05:47 PM
One dead, 29 missing in Qatar boat sinking
1 July 2009
Agence France Presse
One person is dead and 29 are missing after a commercial vessel sank off the coast of Qatar, the Gulf state's interior ministry said on Wednesday.
Despite poor weather conditions, rescue teams managed to save five people from the boat, which sank near the entrance to the Doha canal on Tuesday, the ministry said.
Rescuers are continuing the hunt for the missing people and an investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident.
Qatar's English-language Gulf Times said that among those aboard were Nepalis, Indians and one Bangladeshi.
July 10th, 2009, 07:06 PM
Baltic Sea divers find wreck of Soviet submarine
9 June 2009
STOCKHOLM (AP) - After a decade-long search, a team of Baltic Sea divers has discovered the wreckage of a Soviet submarine that sank with dozens of sailors aboard during World War II, one of the divers said Tuesday.
They found the S-2 submarine near the Aland Islands between Sweden and Finland in February but only announced it Tuesday because they wanted to confirm the identity of the vessel, team member Marten Zetterstrom said.
He said all 50 crew members died when the vessel exploded in 1940, probably after hitting a mine. He declined to give the exact location.
"I think it's been 10 years since people started searching. I've been part of it for four-five years," Zetterstrom said.
Markus Lindholm, an Aland-based expert who studied pictures of the wreck, said the claim appeared to be true.
"According to all available sources no other submarine has sunk in those waters," said Lindholm, curator of maritime archaeology at Finland's National Board of Antiquities.
The submarine was last spotted at surface level by a lighthouse keeper on the Market island, west of the Aland archipelago, Lindholm said. He said the keeper's notes of the incident have been preserved and describe how the vessel headed north before diving and entering a Finnish minefield, after which an explosion was heard.
Lindholm said pictures showed the front of the submarine was missing, apparently torn off by an explosion.
"The mine must have hit the submarine hull near the torpedo tubes and then the whole thing blew up," he said.
Zetterstrom said the divers had informed Swedish and Russian authorities about the discovery.
Swedish Defense Ministry spokesman Mikael Ostlund said the ministry had not had a chance to confirm the claim.
Anatoly Kargapolov, a spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Stockholm, confirmed that the embassy had been informed about the submarine but added that there had not been "any official reaction from Moscow."
Associated Press Writer Malin Rising contributed to this report.
July 11th, 2009, 04:40 PM
$20m coast clean-up cap
12 July 2009
THE owners of a cargo ship responsible for one of Australia's worst environmental disasters say they won't pay more than $20 million for the clean-up bill.
The Pacific Adventurer, now renamed the Pacific Mariner, is transporting cargo from New Zealand to the Middle East. The ship, pounded by Cyclone Hamish, spilled 270 tonnes of fuel oil and 31 containers of ammonium nitrate into Moreton Bay in March.
The oil washed up on Moreton Island and Bribie Island beaches and along the Sunshine Coast. The cost of the clean-up has been put at $30-$34 million.
A spokesman for the ship's owners, Swire Shipping, said the firm had committed to paying $20 million.
The final amount of compensation could not be determined until company executives spoke to Premier Anna Bligh, but Swire won't pay any more than $20 million, the spokesman said.
July 12th, 2009, 06:24 AM
Five dead, dozens missing as boat capsizes off Haiti
11 July 2009
Agence France Presse
At least five people were killed when a boat capsized off the coast of Haiti on Saturday, local authorities said, adding that 26 people aboard the vessel were rescued but dozens more were missing.
The search for bodies and possible survivors was called off for the day because local authorities lacked the necessary equipment, said civil protection official Jean-Michel Sabbat.
The search will resume Sunday, Sabbat told AFP.
Five bodies were picked out of the water, Sabbat said, updating an earlier toll that put the number of dead at six.
The 26 people that were rescued were brought to Saint-Michel Hospital in Jacmel, a port town close to the shipwreck, he added.
The ferry, an old 30-foot (nine-meter) vessel baptized "God's Will," likely capsized because it was overloaded, said Sabbat, explaining that there were some 60 passengers aboard as well as merchandise.
The accident occurred off the southeast coast of Haiti between the towns of Belle-Anse and Marigot, said Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's civil protection agency.
Authorities have asked local fishermen and the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to help, Jean-Baptiste said.
But Sabbat said passengers from the overturned boat may have been able to reach the shore by swimming, as the shipwreck took place close to the coast.
July 17th, 2009, 04:37 AM
Paris court to hear Erika appeal in October
13 July 2009
THE Erika disaster is to return to the courtroom in early October when the Paris appeal court is due to begin hearing appeals against the verdicts reached by the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris in January 2008.
The appeal hearing is due to open on Monday, October 5 and to run for a little over six weeks until Wednesday, November 18.
It will close a little less than a month before the December 12 10th anniversary of the break-up of the Erika off the French Atlantic coast and the release of some two thirds of the 30,884 tonnes of heavy fuel oil it was carrying into the sea.
The Total oil group and classification society Rina, which were given €375,000 ($520,800) fines after the original trial, gave notice after last year’s judgment that they would be lodging appeals.
But there could also be appeals from the two other defendants found guilty at the original trial: Erika owner Giuseppe Savarese and Panship shipmanagement head Antonio Pollara, who were each given maximum €75,000 fines
The four together were also ordered to pay damages totalling €192m to the French government, local authorities and other parties affected by the pollution caused by the Erika’s heavy oil cargo along an estimated 400 km of France’s Atlantic coastline.
Total’s decision to appeal met with strong criticism from environmental groups when it was announced last year. French environmental organisations and pollution victims pointed to the relative insignificance of the fine imposed on it in relation to the billions of euros it made in annual profits.
The oil group claimed, however, that it had decided to appeal “out of duty”, maintaining as it had done throughout the four-month trial in 2007 that, as charterer of the Erika, it could not be held responsible for the “hidden defects” from which the 24-year-old tanker was suffering.
“The verdict is unfair because Total is being blamed for causing the sinking through lack of care during the tanker selection process,” it said following the announcement of the verdict in January last year.
“But the company was misled by certificates that masked the fact that the ship’s structure was severely deteriorated.
“Total is merely a user of ships. It is not its role or its business to act as a substitute for inspection companies and classification societies, the shipowner or the flag state.”
The court’s judgment forced vessel users to become inspectors, it said, and in doing so weakened the responsibility borne by those who had the real duty of establishing the reality of a ship’s structural state. “Contrary to what the court is aiming to achieve, this confusion of responsibility could eventually make shipping less safe,” it said.
The six weeks allotted for the appeal hearing compares with the four-month duration of the original trial which ran from mid-February to mid-June 2007, followed by a judgment pronounced in January 2008.
In the original trial, however, daily sessions were confined mainly to the afternoons, whereas the judicial authorities have provided for full-day sessions during the appeal hearing.
July 22nd, 2009, 02:07 PM
QLD PREMIER REJECTS AUSTRALIAN SHIPPING CO'S COMPENSATION OFFER
BRISBANE, July 22 Asia Pulse - Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has threatened to lead an international crusade against shipping giant Swire after rejecting its payout for one of Australia's worst environmental disasters.
Penalties would include bans on all business interests connected with the Swire Shipping Group and across-the-board levies slapped on all ships.
On March 11, the Pacific Adventurer cargo ship lost 31 containers overboard in rough seas whipped up by Cyclone Hamish.
Some of the containers holed the vessel, resulting in a 270,000 litre fuel oil spill which contaminated pristine southeast Queensland beaches, and left the state with a clean-up bill of around A$31 million (US$25.23 million).
Swire Shipping had originally offered to cover all costs.
But Swire shipping boss Bill Rothery said the offer was made "in the heat of the moment, when we didn't have all the facts, by a manager in Hong Kong".
Despite describing Wednesday's meeting with shipping executives as "constructive" Ms Bligh said the offer, which she did not disclose, was well below par.
"At this stage the offer is not good enough and I'm not going to accept second best," Ms Bligh told reporters after the talks.
"They are not only a shipping company, they have many other products that they have an interest in and I will personally lead the charge - internationally - against their reputation.
"If Swire does not come to the party and we have to impose a levy (Protection of the Sea Levy) to recover these costs on all ships - I'll make sure it's known in the industry as the Swire Levy."
The group's financial interests include airline Cathay Pacific, she said.
Immediately after the meeting, Mr Rothery, chairman of ship owners John Swire and Sons, told reporters the offer on the table was substantially more than their legal obligation of A$14.5 million, which covers less than half of the clean-up bill.
"That proposal includes a very important element to ensure that small businesses, with valid claims, can be paid in full," Mr Rothery said.
Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the government had rushed the clean-up because it was during the election campaign.
Ms Bligh should not be waiting on the shipping company to cough up for the spill before compensating local businesses affected by the disaster, he said.
"The important thing was to get it cleaned up but it's not good enough to say: 'There's the money, there's the bill, you've got to pay it'," Mr Langbroek told reporters.
But he could not say who should pay the cost after Swire's contribution.
July 23rd, 2009, 09:10 PM
Secret offer from Swire not enough
23 July 2009
A SECRET offer by Swire Shipping has failed to end the beleaguered firm's skirmish with the State Government over the clean-up cost for the Moreton Bay oil spill.
Premier Anna Bligh and executives from Swire squared off at a meeting yesterday after their public spat over the $31 million bill to remove 270 million tonnes of oil from affected beaches.
It is believed Swire offered to pay about $20 million at the meeting - the same amount the firm had previously committed to publicly towards the cost of cleaning up after the spill from its ship, Pacific Adventurer.
Ms Bligh said it would be inappropriate to discuss the offer but the Government would not be accepting any amount that left Queensland taxpayers footing any of the bill.
``You cannot just turn up on a beach anywhere in this country, dump a whole lot of oil and expect that the taxpayer will clean up after you,'' she said. ``It is not on.''
The Premier presented Swire's representatives with hundreds of letters and comments from Queenslanders who participated in a petition on couriermail.com.au
Brandishing the weighty mix of outrage and insults thrown at the company, John Swire & Sons chairman Bill Rothery said he was now aware how Queenslanders felt about the clean-up costs.
``There is obviously considerable evidence in my hand of the feeling here in Queensland,'' he said.
However, Mr Rothery seemed determined to make taxpayers foot some of the bill, saying the firm was meeting its moral obligation for the oil spill by exceeding its $14.5 million legal obligation.
``There are laws that cover our moral obligations,'' he said. ``It's a complicated subject.''
Mr Rothery admitted the company's earlier statements that it would pay for all the clean-up had been made in haste when it was thought the amount would be much less.
``The original offer was that we were going to pay all costs,'' he said.
``Now obviously that was an error said in the heat of the moment when we didn't have all the facts by a manager in Hong Kong.''
The company is expected to take the same offer to representatives of the Federal Government at a meeting early next week.
Ms Bligh accused Swire of trying to hide behind its legal obligations and renewed threats to impose a levy on all shipping companies to recoup the cost.
``If Swire's does not come to the party and we have to impose a levy . . . frankly I will make sure it is known in the industry as the Swire's Levy.''
July 24th, 2009, 03:47 PM
Crew rescued from sinking carrier off SAfrica coast
23 July 2009
Agence France Presse
Twenty crew members were rescued on Thursday off a bulk carrier before it sank off South Africa's west coast en route from Brazil to India, a marine rescue authority said.
The captain of the Greek owned Ioannis NK reported at 6:00am that the carrier, with 22,500 metric tons of sugar onboard, was taking on water and listing, said Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre spokeswoman Sarene Kloren.
"Two air force helicopters were dispatched and all 20 crewmembers were safely evacuated to Saldanha Bay" north of Cape Town, Kloren said in a statement.
The carrier was drifting 98 nautical miles (181 kilometres) off Cape Columbine on the West Coast, near Saldanha Bay, and listing at a 45-degree angle before it sunk.
August 2nd, 2009, 05:38 PM
Search resumes for Norwegian ship, crew feared dead
1 August 2009
Agence France Presse
Swedish rescuers on Saturday resumed a search for a Norwegian cargo ship that sank off Sweden's coast with little hope of finding its six crew members alive, maritime authorities said.
The ship, named Langeland, got into difficulties early Friday after being battered by stormy weather off the west coast close to the Swedish town of Stroemstad.
A search party made up of coastguard and fishing vessels was sweeping the area using hi-tech sonar equipment to look underwater for the stricken ship and its four Russian and two Ukrainian crew members.
"We started the search at 6:00 (0400 GMT) this morning and we also have a rescue helicopter and a rescue aircraft searching the same area as yesterday," said Peter Lindquist, a spokesman from the Swedish Maritime Administration.
"At 0943 local time, the fishing boats discovered an underwater echo (with their sonar equipment) that is believed to be the Langeland although this is yet to be confirmed," he added, describing the chances of the crew being found alive as "very small" unless they had managed to escape to the surface.
The 2,500-tonne, 70-metre-long Langeland had been on its way to the port of Moss in western Norway before it sank.
Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported on Saturday that the ship had also been in trouble in Sweden's waters two years ago.
It ran aground in February 2007 close to the seaside town of Landskrona, some 44 kilometres (27 miles) north of Malmoe, southern Sweden.
An inspection later that year uncovered problems with life-saving equipment, fire safety and the crew's knowledge of lifesaving techniques.
Tove Myklebusthaug, chief executive of shipowner Myklebusthaug Management, told Norway's Aftenposten newspaper on Friday that he was aware of the Langeland's past problems but that "the ship had been working fine."
August 4th, 2009, 08:21 AM
Sunken cargo ship located by Swedish coast guard
2 August 2009
STOCKHOLM (AP) - The Swedish Coast Guard says it has found a Norwegian cargo ship that sank recently off Sweden's southwestern coast.
An official says a remote-controlled underwater vessel with a camera located the Langeland on Sunday at a depth of about 110 meters.
"We were able to identify the ship thanks to the pictures," Coast Guard official Ulrika Nilsson is quoted as saying by Swedish news agency TT.
The Langeland sank Friday. The Swedish Maritime Administration received distress calls, but contact was lost shortly afterward. Strong winds were causing high seas at the time.
Six men are believed to have drowned.
The Langeland is 230 feet (70 meters) long and weighs 70 tons. It was on its way to Moss in southern Norway, carrying insulation material.
August 6th, 2009, 11:44 AM
26 missing after Tongan ferry sinks
5 August 2009
Agence France Presse
Twenty-six people remained unaccounted for more than 12 hours after an inter-island ferry sank near the Tongan capital Nuku'alofa, rescue officials said Thursday.
Initial reports said the ferry was carrying 75 people but this has since been updated to 79, of whom 53 have been rescued.
A spokesman for the New Zealand rescue centre, which is co-ordinating the search, said several vessels and an aircraft had been sent to the area where the Princess Ashika issued a mayday call about 11:00 pm on Wednesday (1100 GMT).
The vessel was heading from Nuku'alofa to Ha'afeva in the Nomuka Islands group and is believed to have sunk about 86 kilometres (53 miles) northeast of the capital.
"A trail of debris from the sunken vessel, stretching about eight nautical miles had been sighted in the area and the search vessels were targeting that area," search and rescue officer Mike Roberts said.
"So far, a total of 53 people have been picked up safe and well by rescue vessels, leaving 26 people unaccounted for."
It was not immediately known what caused the ferry to sink and conditions in the search area were good.
Tongan police commander Chris Kelly said all the passengers and crew found so far were alive.
"No bodies have been located at this point but there are still people missing," he said.
In addition to passengers, the vessel was also carrying cargo for the outer Tongan islands including a new ambulance and vehicles for the hospital in Vava'u, a spokesman for the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia said.
The inter-island ferry service is a lifeline for the widespread Tongan islands. The 34-year-old Princess Ashika was put into service earlier this year to replace the passenger ferry Olovaha, which was deemed no longer safe.
The vessel was to be a stop-gap measure until 2011 when a new ferry, currently under construction, is due to go into service.
August 8th, 2009, 09:59 AM
Swire agrees to pay $25 million for clean-up costs
August 8, 2009
Swire Shipping on Saturday agreed to pay $25 million in compensation - $10.5 million more than its legal obligation - towards the clean-up costs for one of Australia's worst environmental disasters.
The company has finally come to an agreement with the Queensland and federal governments after the Pacific Adventurer cargo ship lost 31 containers overboard and spilled oil off the Queensland coast in rough seas whipped up by Cyclone Hamish on March 11.
Some of the containers holed the vessel, resulting in a 270,000 litre fuel oil spill that contaminated pristine southeast Queensland beaches and left the state with a clean-up bill of around $31 million.
Swire Shipping originally offered to cover all costs. Then said it was only legally obliged to pay $14.5 million.
But after much wrangling with government officials, Swire has had a change of heart and will provide $25 million for compensation of valid claims arising from the oil spill.
The money will also go towards a court-administered limitation fund and to a trust established to help improve marine protection and maritime safety.
All valid private claimants and local governments will be given full priority for compensation through the limitation fund.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said Queensland taxpayers would not be out of pocket for the costs of the environmental disaster.
"This agreement provides the framework for compensating private claimants and the Queensland government for the impact of the oil spill," she said.
"This deal delivers what I was determined to deliver - no cost to the Queensland taxpayer."
Federal Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese said the federal government had initiated proceedings at the International Maritime Organisation to increase the limit to shipowners' liability for the future.
Under the national plan covering such oil spills, any shortfall in compensation for reasonable clean-up costs incurred by the Queensland government will be reimbursed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
The AMSA will recoup any such payments from the shipping industry through a small increase in the protection of the sea levy.
August 13th, 2009, 07:24 AM
Feared toll from Tongan ferry disaster rises to 95: police
9 August 2009
Agence France Presse
The feared death toll from a ferry disaster in Tonga has risen to 95, police said Sunday as devastated locals packed churches across the tiny Pacific island kingdom in a day of mourning.
Police commander Chris Kelley said it was now believed there were 149 people on board the Princess Ashika when it went down on Wednesday. Two bodies and 54 survivors have been found, with 93 people unaccounted for.
Police said the final number of missing could be higher and they were continuing to analyse information about unrecorded people onboard the vessel, whose official manifest showed only 79 passengers and crew.
"I think there is a complete manifest that is held by a crew member on the boat when it sailed, but of course that would have been lost in the sinking," Kelley said.
"What we are faced (with) is that people are telling us is they put people on the boat and they weren't on the manifest that was supplied here."
Navy divers from Australia and New Zealand were to continue Sunday trying to locate the ferry, which was en route from Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa to outlying Ha'afeva when it sank moments after issuing a mayday call.
Survivors said the Princess Ashika went down quickly when cargo appeared to shift and people below decks had no time to escape.
The ferry was initially located in about 35 metres (115 feet) of water but may have slipped further on the uneven seabed to a depth of about 100 metres.
New Zealand navy lieutenant commander Andrew McMillan said the ferry had gone down in a volcanic region with several pinnacles and the depth varied from 30 to 110 metres.
Kelley said he was unable to comment on the cause of the disaster but police had interviewed the ferry master who confirmed survivor reports of how quickly the incident unfolded.
A distress call was sent out at 11:50 pm and only a few minutes later the emergency beacon went off, which happens when a ship is immersed in water.
In a small nation of 100,000 people, a large number of families would know people on board the ferry, Kelley said as mourners paid their last respects in churches across Tonga.
Survivors have described how they saw the ferry hit by a one-metre wave which swept the cargo to one side, causing the vessel to overturn.
"The ferry sunk so quickly that no one was able to do anything, and I think the passengers inside just couldn't make it out in time because the ferry just overturned and sank so quickly, in a minute," survivor Viliami Latu Mohenoa said.
Kelley said police and government support teams were visiting families throughout the kingdom "to try and confirm the exact number and identity of people on board."
Efforts were also under way to identify foreign nationals among the passengers.
"We know that there was one Japanese crew member, with two French and two German passengers missing -- four people who were working in Tonga, and there may be more."
The two bodies recovered were of a British national who had been living in New Zealand and a Tongan woman.
Although questions have been raised about the seaworthiness of the Princess Ashika, Tonga's Prime Minister Feleti Sevele said it had passed safety inspections and was found to be suitable for insurance.
Tongan Transport Minster Paul Karalus said an inquiry into the disaster would be conducted by a marine investigator from New Zealand.
The last ferry disaster in Tonga, a sea-faring nation, was in 1977 when the Tokomea disappeared with 63 people on board.
August 19th, 2009, 05:30 PM
Tongan ferry missing toll cut to 72
19 August 2009
Agence France Presse
The number of people missing and presumed drowned in the Tongan ferry disaster was cut to 72 Wednesday as a New Zealand naval team left the site of the sinking, police said.
The number of missing was cut by another one, a day after Tongan police reduced the number by 20 to 73 after careful checking of those reported to have been on the ferry.
Only two bodies were found in the hours after the Princess Ashika sank suddenly around midnight on August 5, with most of the missing believed to be trapped inside the ship. A total of 54 survived the disaster.
The 34-year-old Princess Ashika was 86 kilometres (53 miles) northeast of the capital Nuku'alofa en route to Ha'afeva, in the outlying Nomuka islands, when it sank moments after issuing a mayday call.
The cause of the sinking has not been determined but allegations have been made that the ferry was unseaworthy.
A New Zealand naval vessel returned to Nuku'alofa late Tuesday after deploying a remote controlled submarine to film the ferry lying 110 metres (360 feet) below on the seabed.
The navy said evidence of human remains could be seen in the video footage.
"I consider we have exhausted all likelihood of finding survivors and in that respect I believe all families of the 72 persons unaccounted for can complete closure for their loved ones," police commander Chris Kelley said Wednesday.
The New Zealand and Australian navies have said their divers are unable to carry out recovery missions below 60 metres and it is likely that the bodies will remain inside the ferry.
Reports in New Zealand have suggested it could cost up to 25 million New Zealand dollars (16.7 million US) to bring in a specialist diving team and equipment to retrieve bodies from the ferry.
August 28th, 2009, 08:02 PM
Tanker breaks in two on Red Sea
28 August 2009
Agence France Presse
A Panama-flagged oil tanker broke in two as it made its way through the Red Sea towards Egypt's Suez Canal on Friday spilling 60 tonnes of fuel, a security official told AFP.
The official, quoting the vessels's Filipino captain, said that crew members were cleaning up the cargo tanks when all of a sudden the ship "split in two for reasons yet unknown."
The tanker was on its way to Suez for maintenance work and some repairs, the official said, adding that the tanker was not transporting any oil at the time except for the 60 tonnes destined for its own usage.
The 24-member crew were rescued, he added.
Egyptian officials were meanwhile trying to contain the oil spill.
September 2nd, 2009, 03:18 AM
Boat sinks in Indonesia, 19 dead, 20 missing: official
30 August 2009
Agence France Presse
An "overloaded" cargo vessel sank on a river on Borneo island Sunday, killing 19 people with 20 still missing, an official said.
The Sari Mulia went down after hitting strong currents on the Bataras, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the city of Banjarmasin, in South Kalimantan province, late Friday.
"There's no passenger list but we estimate there could be about 150 people on board. Nineteen people died and 116 are saved. Those still missing are feared dead," city search and rescue chief Rosli told AFP.
"The boat was overloaded with goods and people. The captain is being investigated," he added.
Indonesia's 234 million people are spread across 17,000 islands and so are heavily dependent on a network of ships and boats, which have a poor safety record.
Up to 335 people were killed when a ferry sank off Sulawesi island in January. In December 2006 a ferry went down in a storm off the coast of Java, killing more than 500 people.
September 7th, 2009, 12:04 PM
Madagascar slick clean-up under way
5 September 2009
Agence France Presse
Clean-up operations following the grounding of a Turkish-flagged vessel off the coast of Madagascar have started and damage to the environment should be limited, the ship's operator said in a statement received by AFP Saturday.
The MV Gulser Ana grounded off Faux Cap, on the southernmost tip of the Indian Ocean island, on August 26, damaging its bunker tanks and releasing fuel oil in the sea, the Mardeniz Denizcilik company said.
"The owners, ... pollution clean-up experts, are carrying out beach cleaning operations to remove any bunker oil residues arising from the initial escape," the statement said.
"Anti-pollution experts are working with local residents who are receiving training, equipment and payment in order to assist with this task and we would like to thank them for their hard work and efforts," it added.
The operator said the ship's cargo of 40,000 tonnes rock phosphate -- a kind of fertiliser -- did not pose a threat to the environment.
"Sea currents are carrying any fuel oil to the east and away from the Cap Sainte Marie Marine Reserve and the coral reef, which should avoid any long or medium term environmental damage to the area," it said.
"Over-flights of the area have not shown any evidence of whales or other sea mammals in the area having been in any way affected," it added.
The operator added that the ship's 23 crew had been rescued by the Madagascar coast guard and were ashore.
The island relies heavily on tourism and is home to two percent of the globe's total biodiversity. The majority of its animal and plant species are found nowhere else on Earth.
September 15th, 2009, 06:36 AM
Sunken cargo ship threatens breeding Indian turtles
BHUBANESWAR, India, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The mass breeding of India's endangered Olive Ridley turtles could be under threat by iron ore and oil carried in a cargo ship that capsized off India's east coast, a conservationist said on Friday.
The vessel, operating under a Mongolian flag, capsized off the harbour area of Paradip port in Orissa state on Wednesday.
It was carrying about 25,000 tonnes of powdery iron ore fines and more than 900 tonnes of fuel oil but none had been spilled so far, port authorities said.
The site is close to the Gahirmatha Marine sanctuary, home to almost half a million sea turtles in winter.
Port authorities said they had taken all necessary steps to prevent spillage.
"Certainly it will affect marine life if the oil spills. We are keeping close watch. We are taking steps to prevent pollution," said Biplav Kumar, the port's deputy chairman.
The area is one of the world's few remaining mass nesting sites for Olive Ridley turtles. The turtles come to its beaches for breeding every year around September.
Biswajit Mohanty, the coordinator of Operation Kachhapa, a turtle conservation group, said the turtles could be threatened if their food supply was contaminated.
"Materials in the disaster-hit ship can cause irrevocable harm to the sea turtles' habitat once they spill out," Mohanty said. "The food of turtles like jelly fish, mollusca, shrimps, starfish ... could be killed in the contamination."
Hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles swim up to Orissa's beaches every year to nest, but their numbers are falling drastically due to neglect and rapid industrialization.
December 18th, 2009, 12:53 PM
Somali-held tanker may cause oil spill - UN agency
LONDON, Dec 10 (Reuters) - A Greek-flagged oil tanker seized by Somali pirates last month could create an "environmental catastrophe" if it is damaged by worsening weather off Somalia, the United Nation's shipping agency said on Thursday.
The Maran Centaurus was sailing from Kuwait to the Gulf of Mexico with a crew of 28 and cargo of two million barrels of crude oil, when it was seized by armed assailants near the Seychelles on Nov. 29 and taken to Somalia.
"Adverse weather conditions and other contributing factors may bring about an accident to the supertanker ... possibly resulting in an environmental catastrophe off the coast of Somalia," the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said in a statement.
The UN's IMO, tasked with the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by vessels, said the hijacked ship was taken to an area off the port of Hobyo in Somalia.
"Weather conditions are said to be changing for the worse in the area which, coupled with reported unsafe anchorage conditions, has led to concerns that the vessel might be damaged by grounding, leading to its cargo being spilled and resulting in serious ecological damage," the IMO said.
Pirates from Somalia have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, seizing commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia.
A multinational naval deployment in the area seems only to have driven them to hunt further from shore.
The IMO said its secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos was worried about the potential for ecological disaster, in an area of the world "that presently lacked the infrastructure, equipment, resources and expertise to cope with it".
It said Mitropoulos had expressed concerns in a letter to Somali prime minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke that any accident could have repercussions for nearby fishing grounds and a "consequent negative economic impact on the livelihood of the population in the area."
December 20th, 2009, 01:10 AM
Wahine Interislander ferry disaster in 1968. It was entering Wellington harbour during a cyclone and was blown onto a reef. It capsized and sank with the loss of 51 lives. The weather was one of two very powerful storms which merged over Wellington creating wind gusts of up to 275km/h. This remains one of the costliest modern ferry disasters in New Zealand history. Today though, it is common for Interislander ferries to sail in bad weather.
December 30th, 2009, 08:02 AM
Passenger ferry sinks in the northern Philippines; 6 bodies recovered, 22 missing
27 December 2009
MANILA, Philippines (AP) - A passenger ferry sank in the northern Philippines in a second sea disaster in three days. Six bodies, including three children, were recovered and at least 22 people were missing Sunday.
Search-and-rescue teams rescued at least 60 passengers and crew of the MV Baleno-9 and were scouring the seas for others still unaccounted for, a coast guard report said.
The latest ship disaster came after a Christmas Eve collision between a ferry and a fishing boat in which 24 were missing and feared dead and three bodies had been found by Sunday.
Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo quoted survivors from Sunday's accident as saying the ship took in water from the bow ramp, causing it to list before going under near Verde Island off Batangas province, south of the capital, Manila, late Saturday.
Tamayo said the bodies of three children were among the six bodies recovered.
There were conflicting counts of the number of missing people. The Philippine National Red Cross said 32 remained missing, while the coast guard said 22.
Officials earlier said 63 of the 88 people on board had been rescued, but some names were later found to have been listed twice, said Genalyn Nardo of the coast guard office in Oriental Mindoro province's Calapan city, from where the ferry set sail.
Survivor Eryss Glenn Musni, 14, told The Associated Press that he and his family were on their way home to northern Pampanga province after spending Christmas with his grandparents in central Ilolo city when the accident happened.
He said he became separated from his parents, five siblings and three other relatives when the ship tilted and panicked passengers rushed to jump off, many unable to get life vests.
"Everyone rushed to get out. Some pulled other people, and in the water, some grabbed other people so they would not drown," he said.
Musni said he and two strangers clung to a life preserver for an hour before they were rescued.
He said his mother and sister remained missing but other family members had been rescued.
The crew may have neglected to inspect the ship's doors before setting sail and some may have been left open, said Elena Bautista, head of the Maritime Industry Authority.
Officials said the ship had a capacity of 284 passengers and was not overloaded. Transport and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza ordered the immediate suspension of operations of the ferry's owner, Besta Shipping Lines.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
On Christmas Eve, a wooden-hulled ferry with 73 people on board collided with a fishing vessel near the mouth of Manila Bay.
Twenty-four people remain missing, 46 were rescued and three died in what officials say was an accident likely caused by human error. Coast guard officials said they feared most of those missing were dead, but they held out hope some may have drifted to nearby shores.
Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.
In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.
January 26th, 2010, 09:58 AM
220,000 gallons evaporated, dispersed in oil spill
By JOHN McFARLAND, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jan 25, 4:51 pm ET
DALLAS – The worst Texas oil spill in more than 15 years was contained Monday, and authorities credit a massive emergency response with averting an environmental disaster.
About 462,000 gallons of oil spilled when an 800-foot tanker headed for an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Beaumont collided Saturday with a vessel pushing two barges. As of Monday, roughly 220,000 gallons of oil had evaporated, dispersed or been recovered, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
No injuries have been reported. Port Arthur residents were evacuated after the spill while officials tested the air quality. So far only two oil-covered birds have been reported; one of them was captured and cleaned up, and the other flew away.
More than 60 vessels and 550 people from the Coast Guard, the state, the shipping company and others responded to the spill. More than 11 miles worth of the plastic walls known as booms are floating around the spill, and 27 skimmer boats were removing the oil floating on the water.
"This response has helped contain this oil and keep it from becoming a catastrophe," said Texas General Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam. "Had this oil escaped the ship channel, it could have been a catastrophe."
It was the largest spill in Texas since 1990, when a Norwegian tanker spilled 4.3 million gallons about 60 miles off Galveston. The state typically has about 800 spills a year, but nearly all involve less than one barrel, according to the Texas General Land Office.
Two sensitive wildlife areas near the spill remain unaffected by it. The spill is mostly contained in a 2-mile stretch of the Sabine Neches Waterway near Port Arthur, about 90 miles east of Houston. The estuaries and other delicate environments are crucial for fish, shrimp and "everything that lives in the Gulf," Suydam said.
Environmental watchdogs were encouraged by the speedy response but concerned about what air pollutants people nearby were exposed to.
Hilton Kelley, a Port Arthur environmental activist and head of the group Community In-Power and Development Association, said he was near the water Saturday during the evacuation. He said the smell was so overpowering that he had to put on a respirator mask, and that he told two women walking down the street with their coats over their faces to leave because it was dangerous.
"The fumes were just unbearable," he said. "Our main concern is the number of people who might have been impacted over the long term by the fumes."
The evacuation was lifted Saturday night. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was monitoring the air and water quality and said there were no reports of problems with drinking water or wastewater.
"We've learned a lot over the years how to do this right," said Tom "Smitty" Smith of the activist group Public Citizen. "The downsides, of course, are the long-term impacts of the people who are exposed to the emissions."
The shipping channel was closed Monday, and it was unclear when it would reopen, the Coast Guard said. Coast Guard Petty Officer Larry Chambers said there are currently 13 vessels waiting offshore to get into the waterway and 11 waiting to get out. He said about a dozen tankers move through the waterway each day.
Major refineries have been in this small area of the Gulf Coast since 1901, shortly after the discovery in nearby Beaumont of Spindletop, which at the time was the world's most productive oil field, said Joe Pratt, an oil industry historian at the University of Houston.
The waterway serves four main oil refineries that have a daily combined capacity of nearly 1.2 million barrels. That's about 6 percent to 7 percent of the nation's refining capacity, Pratt said. The refineries also are served by pipelines and typically maintain a reserve.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said the economic impact from closing the waterway could be minimal if it reopens soon.
"If I had to say anything, I think (the closure) will be measured in days, not weeks," Patterson said.
AET Tankers, which owns the Eagle Otome, said it's still unclear exactly how the accident happened that left a 15-foot-by-8-foot hole in the vessel. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Coast Guard are investigating. The Coast Guard is reviewing radio transmissions from the vessels as part of the investigation but is not releasing information from them yet, Chambers said.
A spokesman for AET Tankers, a Malaysian company with offices in Houston, said the company is cooperating with the investigation and working with the Coast Guard on the cleanup.
"It was our product that spilled and right now, we are the ones responsible for cleaning it up," spokesman Darrell Wilson said.
Associated Press Writer Jeff Carlton contributed to this report.
April 8th, 2010, 07:37 AM
Stranded ship 'time bomb' to Great Barrier Reef
SYDNEY, Apr 5 (Reuters) - A stranded Chinese coal ship leaking oil onto Australia's Great Barrier Reef is an environmental time bomb with the potential to devastate large protected areas of the reef, activists said on Monday.
The ship was a "ticking environmental time bomb", Gilly Llewellyn, director of conservation for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Australia, told Reuters.
She said this was the third major international incident involving its owners in four years.
Australian government officials say the stricken Shen Neng I belongs to the Shenzhen Energy Group, a subsidiary of China's state-owned China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, better known by its acronym COSCO.
In 2007, COSCO was linked to a major oil spill in San Francisco bay, while last year it was tied to another in Norway, both of which damaged environmentally sensitive areas.
"We are seeing a concerning pattern potentially associated with this company," Llewellyn told Reuters.
COSCO officials in Australia could not be contacted for comment on Monday.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches along Australia's northeastern coast and is the only living structure on Earth visible from space. It is the world's largest coral reef and a major tourist draw.
As salvagers struggled on Monday to stop the ship breaking up and spilling hundreds of tonnes of oil and thousands of tonnes of coal, environmentalists told Reuters tighter controls on shipping were needed to protect the reef as Australia's energy industry expands.
SHIP NEEDS HELP
Although only a small amount of the 975 tonnes of fuel oil on board has so far leaked, Australian officials have warned the ship is unable to move off the shoal unaided, as its engine and rudder were damaged.
International salvage firm Svitzer has been engaged and has attempted to use tugs to stabilise the vessel, but the head of the government agency overseeing the operation said on Monday the ship was still moving on the reef.
The 230-metre (754-ft) ship was carrying 65,000 tonnes of coal to China when it ran aground on Saturday with 975 tonnes of heavy fuel oil on board, a type of oil environmentalists say is particularly sticky and damaging to marine organisms.
The ship was off-course and traveling at full speed when it hit, Australian officials have said. If it broke up as feared, environmentalists said the effects could be devastating.
"We would potentially be looking at an environmental disaster," Llewellyn said."It would be an extremely large spill."
Among the animals affected would be protected species of turtles, dugongs, and marine birds, as well as the sensitive corals, she said.
Chris Smyth, an ocean campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation, said with Australia planning to expand its energy industry, its government needs to consider whether ships should be travelling through the reef at all.
"It is going to actually increase shipping traffic substantially and the likelihood of these kinds of incidents occurring in the future," he told Reuters.
This is Australia's third such recent disaster, he said, following two last year, another oil spill off the Queensland coast and a major oil well blowout in the Timor Sea.
It should be clearer within the next few days what the likely scale of this disaster may be, Smyth said. In a worst case scenario, the spilt oil could reach protected areas on the Australian mainland, he said.
On Monday, Queensland state premier Anna Bligh called for tough legal action against the shipowners, saying they could face fines of up to A$1 million ($920,000), with the captain facing a further fine of up to A$220,000.
Investigations are underway by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
A spokeswoman for AMSA told Reuters its investigation would be "exploring breaches and possible offences" under Australian law. Some 23 crew who were on board the vessel when it ran aground so far appeared to be safe, she said.
Rescue officials have said the ship will require a long and careful salvage operation, expected to take weeks.
April 8th, 2010, 11:49 PM
Shen Neng I was following shortcut. Prime Minister Rudd says it is "scandalous"
April 6, 2010
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said it was "outrageous" that a ship carrying 65,000 tons of coal and oil 950T has come to find so off course in an area protected from aground on the Great Barrier Reef, with the risk of causing an environmental disaster.
The Shen Neng was following a route that would allow a modest time savings at the expense of safety, which included crossing a sea dotted with bassifodali. The move, to hear what he said a local fisherman, is used by at least one ship per day. A spokesman for the Maritime Safety Queensland has confirmed the existence of a channel with sufficient depth to allow ships to pass.
For the Australian Prime Minister at the time there are three problems to be addressed: contain the spill, the ship afloat, dell'l'incidente investigate the causes and how to intervene in the future in order to prevent new ones. The Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Strong said dispersant sprinkled on slick worked well. "The slick was there that responded to treatment and there were no further additional losses.''
The captain of Shen Neng I., Wang Jichang, said there were no injuries among the 23 crew members. Today I started questioning the crew. The owners of the China Ocean Shipping Group Company face a fine of one million Australian dollars (plus $ 250,000 for the master). The incident has re-explode the controversy associated with the exposure of the Great Barrier Reef to the detriment of trade and long environmentalists claim that the ships are handled by knowledgeable drivers in the area.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is carefully assessing the damage and provides valuable tips for a safe Floating Ship.
Grounded Shen Neng 1 May Have tried illegal shortcut through Great Barrier Reef
PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has says it is "outrageous" That a ship grounded on the Great Barrier Reef Could be so far off course in a protected area.
The shen Neng 1 is stuck on a reef off the central Queensland and Vessel May Have Been Taking an illegal short cut through a passage Between reefs Which fisherman say is used by at least one ship Every Day.
Mr. Rudd, who surveyed the ship this morning from the air with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said: "From my point of view as Prime Minister of Australia, There Is No Greater Than The natural asset for Australia Great Barrier Reef.
"I take Any threat to the Great Barrier Reef Fundamentally seriously. From where I sit, it is outrageous That Could find Itself Any vessel 12km off course, It Seems, in the Great Barrier Reef.''
The Prime Minister Said the stricken ship Was a "serious threat''to the Great Barrier Reef.
Mr Rudd Said to Contain the Priorities Were the oil spill, salvage the vessel, investigated how the incident and look at Happened Whether Any Laws needed to be changed.
"The Practical challenge is to deal with this situation now. The Practical challenge then is to bring to account Those Who Are Responsible,''He Said.
The Shen Neng 1 WAS 15km outside the shipping lane and near a known shortcut Between reefs in Queensland's world famous marine playground When It crashed into coral.
A Maritime Safety Queensland spokesman has Confirmed the Existence of a channel with sufficient working depth to enable ships to pass through - Reef Effectively creating a rat run to save time and money in Their journeys. But Authorities are refusing to discuss Any reason for the Shen Neng 1 Being so far off course. More than two days after the incident, They Have started three Inquiries formally Interviewed but not the crew.
Oil leaked from the stricken That Has Been dispersed coal carrier, the Queensland government says.
Transport department spokesman Mark Strong says dispersant sprayed onto the slick has Worked, and the oil has broken up.
"The slick was there That has Responded to the treatment and There Have Been No Further additional spills,''Mr. Strong Said.
Authorities plan to Have a floating boom around tea Neng Shen 1 sometime today to Contain Any Further leaks.
Chinese news agency Xinhua is reporting Captain Wang Jichang Told the Consul-General in Brisbane Ren Gongping That There Were No Injuries Among the 23 crew members. The consul-general Told the Media Organisation The Captain Said HAD the incident is not serious and Repair is Underway.
No serious risk of breaking up
Authorities believe it's No longer at serious risk of breaking up But Say That Could change if the weather worsens.
Equipment Will Arrive at the scene of the grounded bulk carrier tomorrow it is hoped Which Will Be Able to Contain Further pump oil or oil spills off the ship.
Tugs Have Also Been Brought in to Stabilis the vessel, Which Has Been Dragged by the force of the ocean up to 30m away from Where It first hit Douglas Shoal.
Sonar equipment is expected to paint a Clearer Picture of the damage to Shen Neng 1's engine, rudder and fuel tanks, while the army remains on standby Should oil wash up on nearby beaches.
In Addition to Investigations under way by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the MSQ, Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett has asked the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to ASSESS the damage and advise on the ship's safe removal.
Rockhampton Regional Council Mayor Brad Carter Said His community wanted to know why Their prized portion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park WAS Placed in jeopardy.
"I will be looking for a full explanation from federal and state Authorities as to how this situation occurred and how a vessel of this size Could Be so far off course in the Great Barrier Reef," He Said.
Cr Carter Said He Was That It Was disgusted allowed to veer off course in Such a sensitive area, and Called for Those Responsible to face charges.
Their Chinese owners Cosco maintained public silence yesterday But face fines of up to $ 1 million over the incident, while the captain Could Be Handed an individual penalty of up to $ 250,000. The Cosco group did not Respond to Inquiries from The Courier-Mail AMSA spokeswoman Tracey Jiggins But Said Cosco WAS in regular contact with the salvage company Svitzer.
Premier Anna Bligh Said the ship HAD Acted Should it illegally and face the full force of the law. " The crew are yet to be formally Interviewed, and Have remained on board the vessel.
AMSA chief executive Graham Peachey Said WAS the first priority to clean up the damage and salvage the ship, and a Thorough Investigation Would follow. "We will be looking very, very Carefully at this," He Said.
"It is in the wrong place - there's no doubt about that - But The inquiry will Actually Establish why and how it got there and what Offence Also Establish May or May Not Have Been committed Against Commonwealth law."
MSQ yesterday Said They expected good weather forecast for the area Would Stop Further damage to the vessel.
"In the current Conditions We Are Reasonably assured, as have as We Can Be, That There Will Be Catastrophic no break-up of the ship, But if the bad weather Turned It Will Be Another problem," general manager Patrick Quirk Said.
June 21st, 2010, 05:59 PM
Trial over Spain's worst oil disaster to begin soon
9 June 2010
Nearly eight years after an oil tanker broke up off the coast of Galicia with 77,000 tonnes of fuel oil on board, the investigation into Spain's worst environmental disaster has finally been completed, lawyers said yesterday.
Organisations representing 14,000 fishermen and others affected by the spill are demanding a nine-year jail sentence for the Prestige's captain, Apostolos Mangouras, and two other crew members, who are accused of committing "crimes against natural resources" and "disregard for the law".
The ship's owner and insurer are being charged with "civil responsibility", though they face fines rather than prison. The state counsel is also claiming euros 1.2bn (pounds 1bn) in damages to the environment and the local economy.
The prosecutor in the case, Alvaro Garcia Ortiz, said yesterday the investigation, summarised in 266,650 pages, had been formally completed on Monday. The "mega-trial", as it has been called, is expected to take place later this year in La Coruna. Under Spanish law, only individuals working for companies, not the companies themselves, may be put on trial.
Garcia Ortiz said the case of the Prestige was complicated by the fact that it sailed under the Bahamian flag, was insured in Britain, and was registered in the US as part of a Swiss fleet that has its headquarters in London, while the registered owner and the 73-year-old captain were Greek.
The fishermen's representatives are also making claims on the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds and against the ship's insurers.
On 13 November 2002, the Prestige sent out a distress call during a storm as it was passing the Galician coast en route from St Petersburg to Gibraltar. One of the tanks in the single-hulled ship was ruptured by the heavy seas, rendering the vessel unstable. Helicopters evacuated 24 of the 27 crew. The captain was later taken off, arrested and released on bail of euros 3m. The authorities towed the ship out to sea, where it broke up on 19 November and sank, continuing to leak oil.
The rias - inlets - of southern Galicia are home to Europe's largest shellfish beds. Fishermen there loaded their boats with wheelie bins and scooped the oil from the sea with buckets. Further north, the rugged coastline, lack of resources and feeble government response made the clean-up operation difficult.
Thousands of people from all over Spain joined local people in scraping the oil from the rocks and beaches. The spill polluted thousands of miles of beaches, stretching from northern Portugal to the Bay of Biscay.
July 9th, 2010, 11:33 PM
Advances in fighting oil leak could come this weekend
New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) -- A dual-pronged effort to battle the oil belching from a runaway well that has dirtied the Gulf of Mexico shows promise for this weekend, the head of the government's oil spill response team said Friday.
Crews were taking advantage of what retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen called "a weather window that we may not see again this summer" to hook up the Helix Producer, an oil-recovery vessel, and on Saturday they hope to begin replacing the containment cap on the leaking well with a larger, more permanent one the Obama administration is calling the "sealing cap."
Allen said the Helix Producer, which can process 25,000 barrels of oil per day, could be connected Friday to the breached well and be made functional Sunday.
In addition, the containment cap "can be removed quite quickly" and BP could start replacing it with the sealing cap by Saturday, he said. Because crews need special tools to switch the cap, it could be three to four days before they're in a position to put the new cap on, Allen said.
Scientists have estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil are spewing daily from BP's breached Macondo well. They have been basing their estimates on high-resolution video and data from acoustic devices used to measure density.
But Allen said that, once the long-term containment cap is in place, scientists will for the first time have the empirical data they need to determine the true flow rate. "I would think once the capping device is on, we would get the most accurate flow rate to date," he said.
Switching the containment cap could increase the amount of oil collected each day to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels, Allen said. Under a new alignment, four vessels would participate in oil recovery, one more than the three currently involved.
However, while the cap is being switched, the 15,000 barrels of oil the Discoverer Enterprise ship has been collecting each day would gush instead into the Gulf.
Allen said Friday he spoke the night before with BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley about the Obama administration's request for BP's timeline for oil containment and recovery.
Federal responders expressed optimism Friday about a new aerial weapon in their arsenal. A 178-foot U.S. Navy blimp, the MZ-3A, was flown from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, to be used to survey the disaster area as soon as Saturday, depending on the weather.
Officials said they hope surveys from the blimp will help them cut the time needed to get skimmers to the scene of oil slicks.
"Having something at a low altitude that can stay on scene a very long time is extremely valuable," Allen said. "We are anxious to see how it works."
The first relief well BP is drilling in the Gulf of Mexico could intercept the leaking Macondo well in seven to 10 days, Allen said Thursday.
But the time it will take to seal the well will depend on "where the oil is coming up through, where they can intercept, where they can put the mud in, where they can put the cement plug," he said.
The massive pollution caused by the spill has taken a toll on Gulf Coast residents and businesses.
"There's a strain on the community of the future; there's a strain on the community of the present, not being able to pay the bills that they have," Plaquemines Parish Councilman Don Beshel said.
The strain is also hitting the city of New Orleans. In Mayor Mitch Landrieu's first State of the City address Thursday, he said the crisis poses "daunting challenges" to his city.
"We do not know when the oil will stop gushing or what the final impact will be on our environment or our economy," he said. "We can feel that our entire way of life is threatened -- from the fishermen in the Gulf to the waitress at Felix [Restaurant and Oyster Bar] to the tour-bus operator on Decatur, our eyes are wide open and every one of us knows what is at stake."
He said he is waiting for answers from BP about a request for $75 million to fund tourism marketing and programs to train 500 New Orleans residents to work in the cleanup effort. "What people really want is the opportunity to work," Landrieu said.
October 28th, 2011, 11:46 PM
Adriatic Sea incident between merchant ship and ferry in Italy
Adriatic ferry collision with cargo ship sinks in the Adriatic adriaticoNave transport: unfortunately there is already talk of a victim and a few scattered at sea.
It is this morning, October 20th, the news of the accident occurred in the Adriatic Sea to a merchant ship direct to Montenegro, flying the Maltese flag, according to the GR1, from Turkey according to the newspaper online Enet.gr.
The Albanian authorities announced that a sailor was killed, while five more are still missing, because of the cargo ship collided with a ferry that operates between the Albania - Italy. The "The Queen" sank immediately after the collision with the ferry "Ankara", around midnight, Italian time, about 30 km away from the Albanian port of Durres, 10 miles from the Italian territorial waters.
The route of the ferry to Italy's Adriatic Ferry Company has continued regularly in the direction of Bari, two sailors were rescued and placed no reports of any injured on the ferry, due to the impact with the cargo ship.
The reasons for the crash have not yet been established, although they are already started the research of the causes hours of the incident, as well as sailors missing after the sinking. The Coast Guard received the alarm signal by satellite from the same merchant ship sank and promptly intervened and passenger ferry had already done some of the rescue of 10 sailors who made up the crew of the small boat merchant.
January 8th, 2012, 04:28 PM
New Zealand, grounded ship breaks
It is feared an environmental disaster
January 10th, 2012, 06:08 PM
January 14th, 2012, 10:16 AM
Costa Concordia today
January 14th, 2012, 03:02 PM
January 14th, 2012, 08:57 PM
location of disaster:
Isola del Giglio (Tuscany)
January 16th, 2012, 09:31 AM
^^So sad to hear news... heartily condolence to family who lost their loved ones....
January 18th, 2012, 11:52 AM
January 19th, 2013, 11:49 AM
CAMBODIAN CARGO SHIP ON FIRE OFF JAPAN'S KOBE
OSAKA, JAPAN Jan. 19 (NNN-Xinhua) -- A Cambodian-registered cargo ship, with nine crew members, seven Chinese and two from Sri Lanka and Myanmar, on board, caught fire off the coast of the western Japanese city of Kobe on Friday, according to Japanese maritime authorities.
The fire broke out on the freighter "CHUN XING" in waters several kilometers south off shore of the city at around 9:30 a.m. local time, the Japanese Coast Guard said.Read more (http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/v3/read.php?id=MjE4NjAw)
January 19th, 2013, 01:38 PM
US Navy: Ship stuck in Philippines used faulty map
MANILA, Philippines -- An inaccurate map that mislocated a marine sanctuary may have caused a U.S. Navy minesweeper to run aground on a coral reef in the Philippines this week, the Navy said Saturday
All 79 officers and crew of the USS Guardian were taken off the ship for safety reasons after it struck the reef with its bow at 2 a.m. Thursday. The Navy's Pacific Fleet, based in Hawaii, said Saturday that its ships along with several support vessels continued to conduct salvage operations that minimize environmental effects to the reef.
Read more (http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/19/3190187/us-navy-ship-stuck-in-philippines.html#storylink=cpy)