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Kerosene-filled tanker strikes sunken vessel

The Tricolor sank after colliding with a vessel on December 14th
The Tricolor sank after colliding with a vessel on December 14th

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DOVER, England (CNN) -- A tanker carrying 70,000 tons of kerosene struck a sunken vessel in the English Channel late Wednesday, the second such accident in three weeks.

The Turkish-flagged tanker Vicky ran into the sunken ship around 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET) in moderate-to-rough seas, said Fred Caygill, a spokesman for the Maritime Coast Agency.

The Vicky was carrying a crew of 24 and was en route from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York.

It was believed the crew was waiting for high water at 10 p.m. to lift the Vicky off the sunken ship, Caygill said, so officials were making no attempts at evacuation.

"It's the responsibility of the master as to his vessel and crew at the moment," Caygill said.

The sunken ship, the Tricolor, went down December 14 in high seas off the southeastern English coast in the Dover Strait. It was carrying almost 3,000 BMWs, Volvos and Saabs worth about $48 million. Its crew escaped unharmed, but the Norwegian-registered car carrier remained near the sea's surface.

Two days later, a 3,000-ton ship, the Nicola, ran into the Tricolor, becoming lodged for about six hours before managing to float off.

The Tricolor's location is known to ships moving through the area, and the fact that two ships have struck it anyway emphasizes how busy the straits are, Caygill said.

"The vessels do have a mandatory reporting responsibility to the French and the English in their respective sides of the traffic separation scheme," he said, "but this particular area where the Tricolor is down is just outside the monitoring area."

Caygill said there would be an inquiry into the reason for the second collision.

A salvage company has been working to remove the 2,000 tons of heavy fuel oil still in the Tricolor, but weather has slowed the efforts.

The Tricolor had been carrying the cars from Zeebrugge, in Belgium, to Southampton, England.

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