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Old November 25th, 2007, 04:23 PM   #101
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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.
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Old November 30th, 2007, 03:27 AM   #102
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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.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 04:40 PM   #103
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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.
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Old December 11th, 2007, 03:46 AM   #104
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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."
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Old December 12th, 2007, 09:45 AM   #105
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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.
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Old December 24th, 2007, 03:17 AM   #106
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Human Error Blamed for Worst Oil Spill
21 December 2007
Korea Times

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.
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Old December 27th, 2007, 09:44 AM   #107
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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.
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Old January 17th, 2008, 05:17 AM   #108
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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."
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 05:29 PM   #109
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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.
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Old February 27th, 2008, 07:20 AM   #110
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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.
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Old March 4th, 2008, 06:56 AM   #111
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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.
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Old March 14th, 2008, 06:50 PM   #112
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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.
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Old March 16th, 2008, 07:26 AM   #113
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any website showing pics about maritime disasters?
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Old September 12th, 2008, 07:26 PM   #114
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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.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 03:51 PM   #115
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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.
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Old January 14th, 2009, 03:52 PM   #116
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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.
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Old February 15th, 2009, 03:24 PM   #117
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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.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 04:00 AM   #118
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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.
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Old March 22nd, 2009, 07:01 PM   #119
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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."
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 04:13 AM   #120
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Hebei Spirit oil spill was caused by tugboat errors
25 March 2009
Lloyd's List

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.
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