MUMBAI – The Indian Coast Guard rescued all 33 sailors from two Panamanian cargo ships which collided off the Mumbai harbor. The Shipping lanes around two of India’s biggest ports has been blocked after an accident in the busy Mumbai sea lane Saturday left a cargo ship listing dangerously, dumping containers into the Arabian Sea.
The M.S.C. Chitra and M.V. Khalijia III collided around five nautical miles off the Mumbai coast Saturday morning, around 9:45 am, an official of the Indian Coast Guard said. The impact caused the fully loaded Chitra, which was carrying 1,219 containers, to run aground and start tilting at a 75 degree angle.
At least 250 containers and 400 tons of oil have spilled into the sea so far. There could be more damage if some of the containers full of contaminants have fallen into the water.
“The vessel had 31 containers on deck loaded with dangerous cargo,” said India’s Directorate General of Shipping in a statement Monday. “This cargo contains corrosive, toxic and flammable constituents.”
Port Authorities have started trying to round up the floating containers and fishermen have been notified to stop fishing in the area. Oil and other toxic chemicals from within the ships and their cargo could threaten the wildlife on the coast.
The Indian Coast Guard in a statement said that the oil spill from M.S.C. Chitra has stopped, but its ships continue to monitor the situation.
Mumbai Port Trust officials say that the collision of the vessels may have happened as they were using two different radio frequencies to notify others of their position in the waters.
By late afternoon, the tilted ships stabilized and were not in danger of sinking or creating shipping traffic hazard in the busy port area off Mumbai, the official said.