x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Sailor lost as tug capsizes

A sailor is missing after a tugboat capsized off the Abu Dhabi coastline on Thursday night.

A rescue team examines the hull of the tugboat.
A rescue team examines the hull of the tugboat.

ABU DHABI // A search was continuing on Friday night for a crew member missing at sea after a tug boat -capsized off the coast of Abu Dhabi as it towed a cargo vessel into port. Four other crew members were rescued by coastguards after being thrown overboard on Thursday night when the boat, Abu Dhabi 1, suffered engine failure and was hit by the ship it had been guiding into the harbour. Three rescue boats travelled eight nautical miles to the capsized boat yesterday to continue the hunt for the missing Filipino crew member. The hull of the upturned boat was clearly visible as the coastguards cruised around it for signs of the man.

They had already scanned the area the previous night, after the accident, and several dives were made into the overturned boat to try and locate the fifth crew member, but without success. "Divers went inside the boat, but they were not able to find anything due to poor visibility," said an officer from the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA) who was part of the mission. The CNIA said yesterday the sea traffic watchtower at Mina Zayed had issued an alert at 9.45pm Thursday night. The authority dispatched a rescue team to the site and four crew members were plucked from the sea. According to the CNIA, the Abu Dhabi 1, which was built in 2002 in Singapore, had capsized due to a sudden engine failure while it was towing a 225-metre long cargo ship, the JM Hong Kong.

As the tug stalled, the larger ship swerved violently to the right, hitting the stern of the tug. All five crew on the tug were thrown into the water as it quickly overturned with the force of the collision. The four survivors, a Bahrani and three Filipinos, were taken immediately to Khalifa Hospital. Two suffered minor injuries, one from dizziness and one was unharmed. It is believed that the men were discharged yesterday after treatment. Strong currents and bad visibility had made it impossible to recover the tugboat as of last night. Further rescue crews will be returning to the area again this morning to continue the hunt for the missing crewman. The incident is the second major shipping accident to involve loss of life off the coast of Abu Dhabi this year. Eight people died in February when the ferry Dhanna III capsized in bad weather while sailing from Mugharaq, on the western Al Gharbia coast, to Jurnain Island. The ferry was part of a fleet operated by the Dalma Co-operative Society, connecting the mainland and islands. There was only one survivor, a Pakistani man who was pulled from the water. It is believed the ferry capsized after its cargo of lorries and cars came loose in a sandstorm and the ship attempted to turn back to port. The bodies of the two remaining victims were only recovered from the wreckage of the Dhanna III last month. hdajani@thenational.ae