South Asia

Mumbai assesses oil spill damage

MSC Chitra in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast on 9 August 2010
Image caption Oil had been leaking from two ruptured tanks on the Chitra

Indian officials are assessing the environmental impact of an oil spill from a tanker collision off Mumbai, after the leak stopped on day three.

About 500 tonnes of oil is thought to have flowed from the MSC Chitra after it crashed with another Panamanian-registered ship on Saturday.

There are fears for marine life and ecology along the Mumbai coastline and the Arabian Sea.

Officials said it would take a month to bring the spill fully under control.

A team from the Netherlands has been called in to help pump out the 2,200 litres (480 gallons) of oil thought to remain inside the ship.

Nuclear facility warning

The Chitra has been listing about five nautical miles off shore since its crash with the MV Khalijia-III, which was not so badly damaged.

Oil had been leaking from two ruptured tanks on the Chitra, but the spill stopped on its own on Monday, said Coast Guard.

The Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board is looking into the possible impact along the coastline.

Oil has been seen on the water across the Arabian Sea from the landmark Gateway of India monument, including around the Elephanta Caves world heritage site.

One of India's main nuclear facilities, Mumbai's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, has been warned not to use sea water to cool its reactors in case it contains oil and toxic substances.

People have been advised against eating sea fish as a precaution.

The Directorate General of Shipping is expected to rule later on Tuesday whether Jawaharlal Nehru Port is ready to resume operations.

The collision shut India's busiest port on Monday, holding up three crude tankers holding about 1.5 million barrels of crude oil for Bharat Petroleum Corporation.

Coast Guard helicopters have been spraying anti-dispersants to prevent the spill from spreading.

To avoid navigational hazards to other ships, port officials have also been trying to salvage up to 400 containers which fell from the Chitra.

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