Suez Canal tugboat sinks after collision with tanker

One of the boat's crew members was killed, officials said

A tugboat sank in the Suez Canal after a collision with a tanker on Saturday. AP
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Northbound maritime traffic through Egypt's Suez Canal resumed late on Saturday night after being halted to make way for rescue teams, who were trying to locate a tugboat that sank in the canal.

The vessel collided with a US-bound tanker, the waterway's authority said.

The tugboat, which was struck by the Hong Kong-flagged tanker, Chinagas Legend, which was coming from Singapore, was located on Saturday night, said Suez Canal Authority chairman Admiral Osama Rabie, promising that once backed up traffic through the waterway was cleared, salvage teams would retrieve the submerged tugboat. The tanker was carrying liquified petroleum gas.

The vessel sank after the collision, in the Ballah area, caused holes in its hull, he added.

While south-bound traffic through the canal was not interrupted by the collision, a group of north-bound ships were held up for hours on Saturday.

A ring of buoys was placed around the collision site, which is directly in the route of north-bound ships, to ensure passing vessels could safely avoid it on their way out of the canal.

The sunken vessel would be retrieved once backed up north-bound traffic was cleared from the canal, Adm Rabie said on Saturday.

Adm Rabie told local TV that one member of the tugboat's crew had died. The dead crew member, Sayed Moussa, was a mechanic from Port Said, his family told Reuters.

Six other crew members were rescued and taken to hospital.

Furthermore, Moussa's body is missing, Mr Rabie said on Saturday, adding that extensive efforts are under way to find him.

A crane was being used to lift the sinking tugboat from the waterway, he said, and a detailed report would be prepared looking into the cause of the collision.

The Suez Canal Authority said traffic in the waterway was largely unaffected.

“The tanker is currently waiting in Port Said until the completion of the procedures related to the incident,” Adm Rabie said.

The tanker is 230 metres long and 36 metres wide, and carries a cargo of 52,000 tons of LPG.

The canal is the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia. The SCA is working on an expansion of southern sections of the canal after a giant container ship, the Ever Given, got stuck there in 2021, blocking traffic for six days.

Tolls paid by ships traversing the canal are one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency.

The canal's authority announced its largest revenues to date in the 2022-2023 financial year which amounted to $9.6 billion.

The year's revenues also constituted a 35 per cent increase compared to the preceding year.

Updated: August 07, 2023, 9:33 AM