Cyclone Nilam: Ship not seaworthy, Captain defied instructions, say sources

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 03, 2012 12:13 hrs

Questions are being raised over the role of MT Pratibha Cauvery, which was grounded by cyclone Nilam, captain in the tragedy after the bodies of remaining two sailors of the ship was found on Saturday.

The ship, which drifted following heavy winds, is currently at Besant Nagar beach in South Chennai and is carrying two tonnes of light diesel oil and 355 tonnes of furnace oil.

Six sailors lost their lives after a lifeboat they were using to leave the ill-fated ship capsized.

While the body of one was found on Wednesday, the others were reported missing. Over the last two days, their bodies have been found at different places off the coast of Chennai.

Sources said that MT Pratibha Cauvery was not sea-worthy since October 2 and had been berthed at the Chennai Port since a month.

They blamed the captain for defying instructions to move to safe waters despite the threat of the cyclone intensified.

The Chennai Port had asked the ship, berthed on the Outer Anchorage (OA) of the port, to head deeper into the north or eastwards as a precautionary measure before the severe cyclonic storm arrived.

Cyclone Nilam made landfall on the south east coast on Wednesday evening (October 31).

On Tuesday, the Chennai port stopped cargo operations after a cyclone warning. On Thursday a port official confirmed the port resumed cargo operations after a cyclone in the area eased in severity.

The port handles about 10 percent of traffic passing through India's major ports, covering a variety of cargoes including crude oil, petroleum products and agricultural commodities.

The north Indian Ocean usually sees about five cyclones a year, about 5-6 percent of all cyclones, with October-November and May-June seeing the most severe ones. (ANI)

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