Ships collide in thick Malaysia haze; 29 missing
September 27, 1997
Web posted at: 11:14 a.m. EST (1614 GMT)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) -- Rescue crews combed murky
waters for survivors off the west coast of Malaysia Saturday,
after a supertanker rammed a cargo ship in thick haze from
forest fires across Southeast Asia.
Twenty-nine crewmen were missing, some of them believed
trapped in the Indian-registered cargo ship, which was hit
while the crew slept late Friday and quickly sank, officials
The collision occurred hours after an Indonesian jetliner
crashed 255 miles away while descending through the thick
haze that has choked much of Southeast Asia. All 234 aboard
A L S O :
Crash investigators in Indonesia search for 'black boxes'
The Vikraman cargo ship and the Mount 1 supertanker, which
was registered in St. Vincent in the Caribbean, collided in
the Strait of Malacca about 11 p.m. Friday (1500 GMT/11 a.m.
EDT) near the central Malaysian town of Port Dickson, about
50 miles south of Kuala Lumpur.
Capt. Cartik Venghatraman of the Vikraman and four other
people were rescued. Authorities said the Mount 1 was
slightly damaged and none of its crew was injured.
It was not immediately known what caused the accident, but
the smog was believed to have been a factor.
"It's because of the haze," one official said.
Another official, however, disputed that finding, saying it
was too early to define the cause.
Roslee Mat Yusof, an officer at the Maritime Rescue
Coordinating Center in Port Klang, said dozens of rescue
ships were sent to the scene.
Investigators also were trying to interview the five
survivors of the Vikraman to determine what happened just
before the ships slammed into each other. The five were
rescued by a Thai merchant vessel and the Royal Malaysian
Navy's K.D. Lekir, which picked up the distress call.
Malaysian meteorologists had warned all ships traveling in
and near the Strait of Malacca two weeks ago to be extra
cautious due to the smog.
Visibility in the area was about one mile at the time of
Friday's collision. Last week, two cargo vessels collided in
the strait, but no one was killed.
The haze, from hundreds of smoldering forest fires in
Indonesia, is also suspected of playing a part in the plane
crash on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.