Barge hits buoy and sinks, 10 rescued

A barge laden with fly ash sank in Haldia on Tuesday after it collided with a buoy at the confluence of the Rupnarayan and Hooghly rivers in East Midnapore.

By ANSHUMAN PHADIKAR in Mahishadal
  • Published 12.09.18
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The barge before it sank completely

Mahishadal: A barge laden with fly ash sank in Haldia on Tuesday after it collided with a buoy at the confluence of the Rupnarayan and Hooghly rivers in East Midnapore.

The 150ft vessel was on its way from Budge Budge to Bangladesh when it hit the buoy amid heavy showers. Fishermen on the river spotted the sinking barge around 5am on Tuesday and rescued all 10 sailors on their boats.

"We had seen the partially submerged barge before it went down fully. We made our way there immediately and informed local panchayat authorities through cellphones," said fisherman Manas Jana.

According to sources, the collision occurred after 4am and the first rupture was in the wall of the engine room, which led the entire barge to sink subsequently.

The barge's pilot, Malay Bag, said the vessel was on its way to Namkhana: "We hit something and the fuel chain snapped. Before long, the engine room flooded and we were stalled."

Engine master Sheikh Nurajjaman said: "Left stranded, we all made our way to the roof of the barge. Luckily, the fishermen spotted us before the entire vessel went down."

Fly ash is a coal combustion product composed of particulates driven out of coal-fired boilers with gases. Fly ash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide, aluminium oxide and calcium oxide.

Police said the consignment had come from the Budge Budge power plant of CESC. Sixty per cent of the fly ash generated at the plant is sent through waterways to Bangladesh.

Sources said 750 tonnes of fly ash were lost in the mishap.

"We do not know if the barge, owned by a private company, was carrying fly ash from our plant. We are looking into the incident," said Rabi Chowdhury, CESC's managing-director (generation).

Sources in the Bengal power department said the administration could be asked to ascertain the extent of pollution the fly ash could cause to the water.

Local people said parts of the ship could be seen when high tides subsided and there was a possibility of the consignment being recovered once weather became favourable.