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Rough weather delays refloating of sunken ship off Sharjah

Sharjah: Environmental officials in the UAE are adopting a wait-and-see approach to Sunday's sinking of oil tanker Lady Moon half a kilometre off Al Hamriya Port in Sharjah.

With rough seas prevailing over recent days, there have been only small traces of fuel floating on the surface, presumed to be emanating from the diesel cargo aboard the tanker which could be refloated when calm weather returns by early next week.

It's entirely possible that the diesel fuel cargo may be contained within the holds of tanker Lady Moon until she is raised once again, said authorities, given reports the hull still may be intact.

Keith Wilson, marine programme director with the Emirates Marine Emirates Group (EMEG) told Gulf News on Monday that evidence so far suggests that the fuel cargo is under control.

Word that the ship will be raised is a good sign that ecological harm to aquatic marine life could only be minimal.

"If it is being refloated, it would appear there is no problem," said Wilson in an interview.

He pointed out that EMEG has not yet been called in as observers as part of any potential clean-up.

Wilson said the oil traces seen on the surface could be light diesel fuel which tends to rise to the surface and dissipate quickly as compared to heavier diesel fuel which is more prone to sinking in water.

Authorities, meanwhile, are attempting to reach the owner of Lady Moon.

Search for owner

"We are trying to reach the owner so that we can refloat the vessel," said Hamriya Port authorities in a statement yesterday.

According to information, the 23-metre long vessel has the capacity to carry 150 to 250 tonnes of oil.

"The operation room wants to establish contact with the owners so that he can take the vessel out. We have controlled everything and monitored the situation around the clock," Hamriya Port authorities said.

All five crew members were rescued after the oil tanker sank.

Meanwhile, authorities are planning to refloat another oil tanker that sank in October last year off the UAE coastline.

Officials said that White Whale, a ship owned by the same company, can be expected to be refloated by the end of this week.

White Whale, a vessel that carried more than 1,000 tonnes of diesel, sank about 35km off the coast of Umm Al Quwain and about 25km east of Sharjah's Port Khalid.

Gulf News tried to contact the Ministry of Environment but they were not available for comments.

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