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Vessel to monitor sinking ship

Midnapore, May 20: About a week after Sigitika Biru floundered and nearly sank close to the Sandheads, about 120 km downstream from Haldia, coast guard vessel Sarangi reached the spot to carry out pollution tests.

The ship carrying more than 6,000 tonnes of soda ash poses a threat to marine life in its vicinity as its chemical cargo may contaminate the water. It also had about 150 tonnes of diesel.

The Vidyasagar University here is also sending a team of experts to the area to conduct a study.

Sarangi reached the spot from Chennai this morning. It has on board a helicopter and is capable of dousing the water with chemicals so that the effect of the soda ash, if it gets exposed, can be neutralised,” said R.K. Wadhwa, the Indian Coast Guard commandant in Haldia.

He added that a coast guard aircraft is making regular sorties to check for contamination from the ship.

Photographs taken by the aircraft showed the vessel is slowly sinking into the sand, about five nautical miles from the shipping channel.

The captain and crew of Sigitika Biru are still at the Seafarers’ Club in Haldia, waiting to be provided passage to their native Indonesia.

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