Chemical spill fears in English Channel

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A French tug is towing a stricken chemical tanker to Le Havre after a collision in the English Channel. French rescue teams are hoping to salvage the heavily-listing Ece before it sinks.

Divers earlier said the 10,000 tonne load of phosphoric acid on the tanker was not leaking.

Twenty-two crew members of the Ece were rescued after it collided with the freighter Grot-Rowecki early on Tuesday near the Channel Island of Guernsey.

The alarm was raised at about 0220 GMT when the vessels collided about 30 miles north-west of Guernsey.

Twelve people were rescued by the coastguard helicopter based at Lee-on-Solent and another 10 by the St Peter Port lifeboat from Guernsey. The Maltese-registered carrier, General Grot-Rowecki, was only slightly damaged.

All crew members of the Ece, including one woman, were taken to a reception centre in Guernsey where they were reported “safe and well”.

One crew member, who spoke to BBC Guernsey, said the side-on collision happened as both ships ran parallel to each other.

First mate Cenk Sakar, said: “The boat was listing at least 30 degrees when we were picked up by the lifeboat and helicopter.”

Coastguard spokesman Fred Caygill said it was too early to say what had caused the accident.

“The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world,” he said.

He said the vessels had collided outside the traffic separation scheme, a stretch of water in the middle of the Channel.

The scheme allows for the separation of ships in two lanes travelling north east and south west.

French fishing trawler Kleine Familie sank early this month, with the loss of five crew members, after colliding with a cargo ship in the same sector of the English Channel.

Source: BBC News