The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Oil spill fears near Karachi as tanker breaks up

Karachi, Aug. 13 (Reuters): An oil tanker grounded off Karachi port has started breaking up and officials today said they feared a major oil spill in the next 12 hours.

A thick layer of oil already covers the sea near the ship, Tasman Spirit, and witnesses said they saw crude gushing out of a crack which has appeared in the middle of the Greek tanker. “The ship has seriously been damaged,” San Van Der Laan, a salvage expert from Holland, said. “It is a matter of hours before the ship will break.”

Tasman Spirit, carrying 67,500 tonnes of crude, was grounded just outside the channel leading to the Karachi Port on July 27 and three attempts to tow it away have failed.

“Every high and low tide increases the stress, and widens the crack,” Laan said.

Port authorities say they have transferred an estimated 19,000 tonnes of crude since Friday, but an estimated 44,000 tonnes is still on the tanker.

Karachi Port Trust (KPT) officials said the ship started cracking after low tides caused buckling today.

“There has been a crack in the grounded ship at the lower end and there are fears that within the next 12 hours the ship can break into two,” Ahmad Hayat, chairman of the Karachi Port Trust, told a news conference. “If the ship breaks there are fears that three of its tanks will break,” he said, adding that one tank was full of water while the other two contained between 1,000 to 5,000 tonnes of crude oil in total.

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