In a daring operation, Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Shoor saved 25 lives on board container carrier MV MSC Daniella last night on the Indian Ocean.
MV MSC Daniella, registered in Panama, caught fire yesterday evening, 32 nautical miles off the coast of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and was about to sink. It was en route Suez from Singapore carrying "dangerous" cargo, the Indian Coast Guard said.
ICGS Shoor not only doused the fire on the 350-metre-long container, carrying over 6000 tonnes of cargo but also managed to rescue the ship from sinking.
"A major disaster was averted, as the crucial Colombo Channel, through which most of the commercial shipping passes, could have been blocked had the ship gone down," Director General Indian Coast Guard Rajendra Singh told HuffPost India over phone.
The first distress call from Daniella was received by the Sri Lankan authorities around 8.30 pm last evening. It said the ship could break because of the fire.
Sri Lanka turned to India for help. ICGS Shoor was on an overseas deployment in Colombo. "We sailed her immediately," Singh said. ICGS Shoor reached the distressed MV MSC Daniella in two hours.
The fire on board MV MSC Daniella made the approach for ICGS Shoor difficult. It then used its external fire-fighting system — comprising powerful water cannons and foam mixture — to attack the fire that was raging on the deck.
"Since the container was carrying dangerous cargo, we had to be more careful," the coast guard said. It took over three hours to control and douse the fire on board MV MSC Daniella. The operation was called off early this morning.
Chief of the Sri Lankan Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Samantha Wimalathunge, called the Director General of Indian Coast Guard, Rajendra Singh, to appreciate India's efforts after the operation was over.
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