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Skeletal maritime activity resumes after ship-collision

Mumbai, Aug 12 (IANS) Five days after two ships collided near Mumbai harbour, skeletal maritime activity was resumed here early Thursday, an official said.

Seven ships have so far been allowed in and out of Mumbai port, the official from the Coast Guard said.

They were escorted by Indian naval ship INS Matanga through the approximately 200-metre-wide main shipping channel leading to the Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, he added.

The ships are being escorted by a helicopter and a minesweeper ship besides two survey boats with sonar scanners. They are followed by a fast attack craft.

The Indian Navy’s survey vessel, INS Yamnua, Wednesday launched a survey of the entire shipping channel leading to and from the two main ports to trace out sunken containers.

By Wednesday evening, it had managed to identify the location of three such containers lying underwater and prominent markers have been set up to warn all vessels in the vicinity, the official said.

The main shipping channel is average 200 metres wide, 11 metres deep and a couple of kilometres long from where around 30-35 huge ships enter or exit daily.

However, the danger of sunken or floating containers looms large over the country’s biggest and busiest port since around 120 containers had fallen off the beleaguered MSC Chitra of Panama till Tuesday.

As a result, all normal maritime activities had come to a halt in Mumbai since Saturday when MSC Chitra and a St. Kitts cargo carrier MV Khalijia-III collided, around five km off Mumbai.

Though skeletal operations have begun, the port authorities are hopeful that normal maritime activities could be resumed by Sunday.

Meanwhile, Union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora carried out a survey of the affected areas, and confabulated with various officials concerned on ways and means to normalise the operations here at the earliest.

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