Sunday, 13 October 2013

Panamanian cargo ship feared sunk in cyclone, fate of crew unknown, rescue mission on

MV Bingo, a Panama-flag vessel, with 3,083 metric tonnes of iron ore, is presumed to have sunk in rough weather about 19 nautical miles south of Sagar Island. The ship's crew of 18, comprising 17 Chinese and one Burmese national, abandoned the ship and headed towards the western bank of Sagar in a life raft.

Officials of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) are now trying to ascertain whether they were washed ashore or picked up by a merchant vessel.

The Sagar Island is at the southernmost-tip of West Bengal, close to the port of Haldia. Sagar has an anchorage. The ship left the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) on Saturday evening and crossed Sagar, trying to reach open waters before Cyclone Phailin struck the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coastline.

It isn't clear what happened thereafter. KoPT officials suspect that the ship developed engine trouble and laid anchor in the open seas. The heavy swell made the cargo shift in her hold, causing the ship to list towards one side.

"The ship, of 2006-make, had 232 metric tonnes of furnace oil and 30 metric tonnes of diesel in her tanks. Around 6.30pm on Saturday, we received a distress call and sent the ICGS Vajra, which was on patrol in the area to investigate. The MV Bingo was located about 19 nautical miles south of Sagar. It was listing 45 degrees to the starboard (to its right side). The crew had abandoned ship. Due to Cyclone Phailin, the swell was extremely heavy — between 7-8 metres — and the ICGS Vajra could not pull the crew members on board," said MA Warsi, DIG, Indian Coast Guard.

According to him, Coast Guard Dornier planes took off on Sunday morning for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. There was no trace of the ship at the spot where it lay anchored on Saturday evening. It was presumed to have sunk at a depth of 8-11 metres.

"We are continuing with our SAR operations. KoPT has also been alerted to maintain a look out for the ship or members of the crew. Our dorniers are also looking out for any oil spill that may take place. Till now, no spill has been spotted," Warsi added.

Sunday 13 October 2013


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