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26 July 2011

Derelict tanker 'on KZN shore'

Durban - A 164m bulk tanker that was on its way to a scrap yard in India has ran aground “on the shore” in Salt Rock, near Durban, Nigel Campbell, captain of the South African Maritime Safety Authority said on Tuesday.

Campbell also said attempts to tow the tanker out to sea were unsuccesful.

He said that efforts were being made by personnel on-shore and off-shore to tow the ship out to sea.

The ship, the Phoenix, ran aground on Monday, the National Sea Rescue Institute said on Tuesday. It is reportedly a derelict bulk tanker on its way to a scrap yard in India. It had a skeleton crew of 15 people who were rescued on Tuesday by the SA Air Force.

"All 15 crew were airlifted off the Phoenix after it ran aground and although the crew were reportedly in no immediate danger they were taken off the vessel for safety precautions," said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

None of the crew was injured, he said.

At approximately 19:00 on Monday, NSRI Durban volunteers and the South African Air Force 15 Squadron (helicopter) were placed on high alert by the Transnet National Ports Authority, following reports from the tanker that it had broken its anchor and was drifting towards shore, said Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander.

The tanker was passing the South African coast and put to anchor off-shore of the Durban coast to wait out some wild weather on Monday, NSRI said.

A cold front pushed through during Monday bringing up to 4m swells and a 25 to 30 knot wind causing rough sea conditions.

- SAPA/News24