Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Keelung shipwreck kills four, spills oil

RECOVERY EFFORTS:Coast guard and defense vessels were desperately searching for missing crewmembers, while efforts were under way to contain a 1km oil slick

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter, with AP and AFP

The remains of the Taiwanese-owned, Panama-registered Jui Hsing gravel ship that ran aground and broke in half near Keelung Harbor in high seas are seen yesterday. Four crewmembers were killed in the accident, while six remained missing as of press time.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Four sailors were confirmed dead and six were missing after rescuers saved 11 from a freighter that ran aground near Keelung yesterday, officials said.

The Jui Hsing (瑞興號), a Taiwanese-owned cargo vessel registered in Panama with 21 people on board, issued mayday signals early in the morning, shortly after it left Keelung for Fujian Province, China, the National Rescue Command Center said.

The accident sparked concerns among environmental authorities, which feared hundreds of tonnes of oil could have leaked from the 11,500-tonne gravel ship, which was ripped in two in high seas off Dawulun Beach (大武崙).

The nation was under the influence of the periphery of Typhoon Nalgae that combined with monsoon winds over the weekend. The storm pummeled the northern Philippines on Saturday before moving toward Hainan Island, China.

“The search-and-rescue work will continue despite the bad weather,” an official at the center said.

The Coast Guard Administration and the Ministry of National Defense dispatched vessels and helicopters to rescue the ship’s crew.

Among the dead sailors were two Taiwanese, one from Myanmar and one from Indonesia. Six others listed as missing were also from the three countries, but the center did not provide a breakdown.

Environmental protection agencies have ordered workers to set up booms along the shoreline stretching for nearly 1km.

“It’s not immediately clear how much of the 275 tonnes of oil on board the ship has leaked, but we’ve asked the ship owner to present a cleanup plan,” said Shen I-fu (沈一夫), an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) official.

The EPA has organized a marine oil pollution emergency response task force.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shen (沈世宏) and Coast Guard Administration Director-General Wang Chin-wang (王進旺) arrived at the site yesterday to monitor the situation and called for a meeting in this morning to discuss the matter of cleaning up the oil spill.

The EPA said the carrier contained a total of 275.8 tonnes of oil, with 160 tonnes of diesel oil, 108.5 tonnes of creosote and 7.3 tonnes of lubricating oil.

Presently, the sea area affected by the oil spill is limited to a 1km strip located between Wanli Fishing Port (萬里漁港) in New Taipei City (新北市) and the Waimushan fishing harbor (外木山漁港) in Keelung.

The New Taipei City Government Environmental Protection Department also sent 30 personnel to the site to clean up the polluted shores and has prepared oil absorbent sheets and oil containment booms to prevent further pollution.

The administration said according to the Marine Pollution Control Act (海洋污染防治法), it will ask the carrier owner to bring up cleaning plans in the next meeting.

Additional reporting by Staff writer

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