Cargo ship damaged after collision off Istanbul


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The Independent Online

A cargo ship struggled to pump out water that seeped in through cracks today after it brushed against two anchored ships while trying to moor during strong winds off the coast of Istanbul, but a senior maritime official said it was not in danger of sinking.

The cargo ship's struggle comes during a time of heightened attention on ship safety following last week's grounding of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off Italy's coast, an accident that killed 11 people and left 21 still missing.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Kayan-1, an 86-metre freighter carrying empty containers, tilted on its right side as crew pumped out water, while a tugboat waited to tow it if needed.

"It cannot sink," Salih Orakci, head of the General Directorate of Coastal Safety, told reporters. "But we are not able to intervene fully because of the weather conditions."

Orakci said the only apparent option at the moment was to pull the ship aground if the captain approves. "But if the weather improves we may have other options," he added. "We are not thinking of evacuating personnel for now."

There were 13 crew members aboard the freighter, which had arrived from Egypt and was on its way to Ukraine.

The ship was trying to moor due to the severe weather when it got dragged and brushed against two other cargo ships, the Netherlands-flagged Slochterdiep and Tanzania-flagged Adria Blu. It came to a halt near the shore at a depth of some 9-metre, Coastal Safety said on its website.

Five maritime officials have boarded the ship to help its rescue. Authorities also have cancelled several scheduled ferry trips in the Sea of Marmara and in the Bosporus, the narrow waterway that bisects Istanbul, due to strong winds and high seas.

Separately today, a Philippine-registered freighter ran aground off a Dutch beach after its anchor slipped in an overnight storm.

The 155-metre Aztec Maiden was carrying no cargo when it drifted onto sand off the North Sea coastal town of Wijk aan Zee, about 12 miles west of Amsterdam, the Dutch Coast Guard said in a statement.

The 21 crew members stayed on the ship. Tug boats will attempt to pull the vessel free at high tide around 1pm.

Spokesman Peter Verburg told national broadcaster NOS that the Coast Guard was closely monitoring the ship for any fue leaks.