Karachi-bound ship carrying explosives intercepted

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 25, 2010 20:41 hrs

Kolkata: A Karachi-bound explosive-laden vessel from the Bangladesh port of Chittagong was intercepted by the security agencies on the Hooghly river channel on Friday evening, officials said.

The vessel - 'Agean Glory' and registered in St. Vincent, Liberia - did not have the necessary clearances for carrying explosives, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) sources said.

"When we checked the papers, we found the vessel had not provided the mandatory declarations for carrying explosives to the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and Customs officials," Coast Guard Commandant (West Bengal) Murugan told IANS.

State Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said the intercepted vessel was carrying 551 metric tonnes of military cargo. "The consignment was meant for a major-ranked defence personnel in Karachi. Investigation is on to ascertain where from the explosives were loaded."

The Coast Guard, Navy, customs and the CISF personnel were aboard the vessel interrogating the crew.

The 152.35 m long vessel, which was slated to unload a part of its cargo at the Kolkata Dock System (KDS), had anchored at the Sandhead in the Bay of Bengal at 2.30 pm.

After a waiting period of several hours, it arrived in the Sagar islands. As per safety precautions, a KoPT pilot, Gautam Chakraborty was assigned to guide the vessel to the KDS.

"However, he grew suspicious of the presence of explosives in the vessel and informed his higher ups. Soon, the navy, Coast Guard, customs officials and CISF were alerted," Murugan said.

The CISF is responsible for providing security within the port area.

"On preliminary checking it was revealed that the vessel was carrying grade -1 military explosives (arms and ammunition). But it had submitted neither the import general manifest declaration to the port authorities, nor the bill of entry to the customs officials," the officer said.

Director of KoPT's Marine Department, Capt A K Bagchi, who is responsible for the river security, did not respond despite repeated calls on his mobile.

More from Sify: