Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crewmember Bodies From Nakhichevan Found In Sea of Azov

The bodies of three sailors found on the Tuzla Spit in the Sea of Azov on Monday morning are from the dry cargo ship Nakhichevan that sank during Sunday’s storm in the Sea of Azov, the Federal Regional Centre of the Emergencies Ministry told reporters. The bodies have not been identified yet. “The inscriptions on the life vests indicate that they are from the crew of the sunken dry cargo ship,” the centre official said. Meanwhile the weather in the area has deteriorated, upsetting the cleanup operation to remove the oil spill in the Kerch Strait, chief spokesman for the Southern Regional Centre of the Emergencies Ministry Oleg Grekov told reporters. “A force 4 storm continues in the area, and the temperature of the air is falling, causing the fuel oil to sink to the bottom. And the oil spill area may increase because of the gusts of wind of up to 10 meters per second,” he said. He said, however, that there are no signs of other oil leaks from the grounded ships. On Sunday, the gale wind raging in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov at a speed of up to 32 meters per second scattered dozens of vessels in the Kerch Strait. The Volgoneft-139 anchored tanker, carrying 4,077,000 tonnes of fuel oil broke into two in the Temryuk district near the Zhyolty Rog Horn on the Taman Peninsula, leaking about 1,200 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea.
Three dry cargo ships, the Volnogorsk-Balker, the Nakhichevan, and the Koval, loaded with sulphur sank. Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said several teams are collecting the spilt oil on the coast in the Kerch Strait and the Temryuk district of the Krasnodar Territory. Rescuers are monitoring the spills from helicopters to keep track of their drift and predict environmental consequences of the spill in the area. Rescuers are also pumping fuel oil from the ships affected the storm and plan to start transferring oil from the Volgoneft-139 and Volgoneft-123 tankers. The latter, although afloat, has been seriously damaged. The search for five missing crewmen from the Nakhichevan is underway. Thirty-seven people were saved during the rescue operation that began on Sunday after several vessels had got in distress in the Kerch Strait and the Novorossiisk port. “Three emergency helicopters and 11 rescue vessels are involved in the search operation,” Beltsov said earlier. The bodies of three seamen, reportedly Nakhichevan crewmembers, have been found. Despite the storm, Russian and Ukrainian specialists continue the search-and-rescue operation in the strait. They are trying to find five seamen from the Nakhichevan. The crew consisted of eight people, and earlier the bodies of three seamen in life vests were found on the Tuzla Spit. They are believed to be from the Nakhichevan. “The Russian side has indicated the area of the search, where the people can be found,” a representative of the Russian crisis management commission said.The Russian crisis management commission (headquartered at the Kavkaz port), led by Deputy Transport Minister Boris Korol, is working in cooperation with the Ukrainian counterpart in Kerch, led by Deputy Minister for Transport and Communications Valentin Kasapchyuk. Meanwhile, the Russian Transport Ministry is working out a plan for recovering the ships that sank in the Kerch Strait on Sunday. However, the work will begin only after weather conditions improve in the area, the head of the Federal Agency of Sea and Inland Water Transport, Alexander Davydenko, told reporters. “Workforce and means necessary to begin the operation have already been sent to the region. Three helicopters and special tugboats will be working in the strait,” Davydenko said. “Ship owners also intend to participate in the operation,” he added. The ships will be raised with the help of pontoons. “They will be submerged and divers will fix them to the ships lying on the seabed. Then, water will be pumped out of the pontoons, and air will be pumped in, after which ships will get afloat together with them,” he explained. According to Davydenko, the ships will be then examined and depending on their condition and weather conditions, they will be either transported to the port or the water will be pumped out at the site. According to the latest reports, the nose part of the Volgoneft-139 is at the place where the ship was anchored, while the aft is four kilometres west of Tuzla lying aground. A crew of 13 has been taken to the local hospital. The Volgoneft –123 has a crack in the body and is moored at the 6th pier at Kavkaz port, being prepared for the transfer of oil from its holds. The Dika barge is standing in shallow waters southwest of Tuzla.l Its two-member crew has been picked up by a Ukrainian tugboat. The Demetera barge is anchored 4.5 kilometres west of Cape Tuzla. The two-member crew is aboard. There is no threat to their lives. The dry cargo ship Volnogorsk sank with a cargo of granulated sulphur west of Cape Tuzla. Its crew of eight has been taken to a hospital in Taman. The dry cargo ship Kovel is standing in shallow waters off the Crimea, its nose part is slightly sunken. The 110member crew has been picked up from the ship and taken to a hospital in Taman. The floating crane Sevastopolets is in shallow waters off cape Zelezny Rog. According to the Southern Regional Centre of the Emergencies Ministry, 320 Russian rescuers, 46 pieces of machinery, 13 ships, and four helicopters are taking part in the search and rescue operation in cooperation with the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry.

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