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  operation to refloat belgian ship CRISTOFORO COLOMBO began

    Monday 1 November 2004

2004-11-01 10:12


YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, November 1 (RIA Novosti’s Pyotr Tsyrendorzhiyev) - The operation to heave off the Belgian ship Cristoforo Colombo in distress has begun on Sakhalin on Monday, the officials of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk sea rescue-coordinating centre said.

"So far the arrangement of the ships which have arrived to refloat the craft from the rocks has begun," the officials of the Kholmsk port supervision service said. A total of five craft, among them the Rubin special craft of the Sakhalin basin emergency-rescue directorate, have come up to the water area of the port where the Chistoforo Colombo, thrown by the Songda typhoon onto a stony shoal stretch 50 metres away from the shore, has been staying since September 8.

To heave off the Belgian craft, which has two holes in the fuel tanks, from the rocks dams will be poured around the ship to set up a kind of dock. Then the Cristoforo Colombo, from which all the heavy equipment and materials have been removed to diminish the ship’s weight, will be led into clear water by a specially dug canal.

The Belgian craft of the European seabed-deepening company was freighted to build a sea pipeline as part of the Sakhalin-2 project in the north-east of the island.

When the Songda powerful typhoon was passing over Sakhalin on September 8, the ship failed to gain the offing for the still unknown reasons, and was thrown onto a stony shoal stretch between Kholmsk commercial sea port and Sakhalin Zapadny (Western) sea port.

As a result, about 200 tons of boiler oil and diesel oil flowed out into the sea and onto the coast from the holes in the fuel tanks. The Sakhalin interdistrict nature-conservation Prosecutor’s Office filed a criminal case on the pollution of the sea environment. The ship’s captain Nicolas Verbraeken is staying on Sakhalin. A bail in roubles, equivalent to $100,000, was deposited for him.

© 2004 RIA Novosti

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