189 containers from MSC Chitra still unaccounted for

While 111 containers on board the MSC Chitra have been removed, as many as 189 containers are still to be accounted for, MSC Agency's CEO, Capt Deepak Tewari, told reporters here.

Charging MV Khalija III for being responsible for the collision between the two cargo vessels which resulted in an oil spill off the Mumbai coast, Tewari said, "We are innocent. The ship (MSC Chitra) moving out of the harbour was on the right track. It was MV Khalija-III which collided with us leading to a breach in Chitra's oil tank and thus leading to the oil spill."

Tewari said that the 189 unaccounted containers were in and around the vicinity of MSC Chitra. Around 270 containers are still on the deck, he said.Nine containers carrying hazardous materials had fallen off MSC Chitra after the collision, Tewari said.
"We have been able to retrieve one of them. The remaining eight are still in the water which we have not been able to locate," he said.

Of these eight, six contain caustic soda, one contains organo-phosphorous pesticide and the other phosphine, he said.The company has spent nearly USD 10 million in carrying out cleaning and surveying operations of the surroundings, he said.

"We have also made an advance payment of Rs one crore to MPCB for use in pollution clean-up operation undertaken by it through the local district authorities," Tewari said. The company has to pay a total of Rs three crore to the authority.

Asked about the extent of the oil spill, he said it could be of the order of 100 to 300-400 tonnes. The ship carried nearly 3,300 tonnes of oil, diesel, lubes and fuel, he said.
"We will be able to know the extent of the spillage only after all the containers are removed. The salvors will be able to access the damage (oil spill) only after all the containers are removed," he said.

He also did not rule out the possibility that there will be no further oil spillage. "There is a possibility that some more oil spillage could have occurred. But our effort is to clear the cargo as soon as possible," he said.

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