Monday, April 03, 2006

Fire On Ship, 1000 Safe But Stalled

A ship carrying around 1,000 passengers caught fire at Sandheads, around 230 km from Calcutta, on its way back from Port Blair to the city. All passengers are safe, an official said, but they are help up near Sagar Island. The fire broke out this morning in the engine of the ship, MV Nicobar, which belongs to the Shipping Corporation of India, according to A.K Chanda, the chairman of Calcutta Port Trust. “The fire was extinguished soon after and all passengers and crew members are safe. The fire damaged the generator that is used to start the engine. So the vessel could not be started and is stranded near Sagar Island,” he said.Another generator, which supplies power to the rest of the ship is functioning. “So the power supply to the vessel is not affected. The fire has damaged some wires,” Chanda added. Shipping corporation sources said the engine room of the Nicobar caught fire around 10 am. After the fire was extinguished, the vessel was towed near Sagar Island, where it lay anchored. Efforts are being made to steer the ship to Haldia or Calcutta as soon as possible, depending upon the tide, the sources said. Coast Guard commandant G. Singh said tonight that a hovercraft (file picture of one on top) and a rescue ship have reached the spot. “There is no cause for worry. The ship has been kept under surveillance,” Singh added. Mechanics of the shipping corporation, who were ferried to the Nicobar by coast guard vessels, have started repairing the ship. “If the vessel cannot be repaired by Monday morning, it will be towed to Haldia,” the port trust chairman said. A tug — a small vessel that can tow bigger ones — has been sent to the spot while another has been kept ready. According to officials, the ship, even if repaired, cannot move out before 11 am tomorrow when high tide is expected to start. “If it is not repaired by 11 am, the tug will tow it to Haldia,” Chanda said.

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