A Panama registered cargo vessel, M.V.Heng Tong 77, sailing from Shanghai, has been stuck at Clifton beach in Karachi since July 21.
It was anchored in Pakistan’s territorial waters off Karachi for a crew change when it lost its anchors due to high tides and drifted towards the shore.
According to Mehmood Moulvi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, the vessel will remain stranded till August 15 as the vessel’s engine is too weak to function.
Moulvi, while speaking at a press conference alongside the Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi, said that authorities would first need to unload oil from the vessel to move it.
He further said that the port remained closed during Eid, resulting in the suspension of the rescue work. He also added that water entered the vessel only when the first rescue team reached it.
However, the captain of the cargo vessel, Umar, rejected the statement saying that port authorities failed to help the vessel despite repeated distress calls.
He also claimed that the ship made the SOS call on July 20 when the chain of one of the vessel’s anchors broke and sank on the sea.
He claimed that he requested the authorities to provide them with a berth on an emergency basis as it was impossible for him to control the vessel with a single anchor.
The second anchor, he said, had been detached from the vessel at 1.15 a.m. on the night between July 20 and 21, and he made the SOS call at 1.20 a.m.
He further said that authorities at Port Muhammad Bin Qasim and Manora also heard the emergency call. Still, the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) control room did not provide them with any assistance. The captain said that he had been told the concerned officers were in an important meeting.
The captain told media persons that all the communication was saved with them.
According to the audio recording of the conversation between the captain and the control tower, the captain asked for help but did not get any positive response. “MV Heng Tong is trying to connect with the Muhammad Bin Qasim port’s control on channel 16,” the captain sent the message thrice.
The authorities, in response, asked him to contact on channel 10. Channel 10, too, remained unresponsive.
After this, the capital contacted Manora’s control room. He told the control room that the vessel was “travelling to the shore”. The captain further asked, “Did you get my message?” To this, the control tower replied, “Sorry, we are unable to help you at this moment”, as per the recording.
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