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Salvaging ship job of its owner, Senate panel told

ISLAMABAD: The government has informed a parliamentary committee that salvaging the cargo vessel, which ran aground at the Seaview beach, Karachi, was the responsibility of the ship’s owners and the insurance company.

The Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs met here on Wednesday for a briefing on the vessel that has become an environmental hazard.

Ministry of Maritime Affairs Secretary Rizwan Ahmed said that Heng Tong 77 was going to Istanbul, Turkey, from Shanghai, China, and did not enter the Karachi Port. It was in Pakistani waters for change of crew members. The rough sea caused the vessel to lose its anchors and it started drifting towards shallow water.

According to Mr Ahmed, the ship was already in shallow waters by the time the Karachi Port Trust was informed about the situation. The environmental experts expressed fears that oil being transported by the vessel could spill, potentially damaging the environment. He said the ship was flying a Panama flag.

The meeting learnt that the ship came on Pakistan’s shores on July 17. By the time the ministry was informed of the drifting of ship on its return to Pakistani waters after it lost the second anchor, it was the first day of Eidul Azha and the ports were closed.

Committee chairperson Rubina Khalid inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs whether closing of the ports on religious festivals was a worldwide practice, but the maritime affairs secretary failed to give a definite answer.

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