4 dead in cargo ship, tugboat accidents, criticisms mount
A tugboat hit rocks and crashed to pieces on Tuesday during a mission to rescue crewmembers of a ship that had capsized off the coast of northeast İstanbul on the same day.

The total number of dead in both accidents was four as of Thursday.

After the tugboat accident, the Coastal Safety Directorate-General of the National Police Department became the target of criticism that they were negligent and that they forced their staff to go on a dangerous mission.

The cargo ship Volgo-Balt 199 sank off the coast of Şile, a small town northeast of İstanbul, due to a storm on Tuesday. Out of a total of 12 crewmembers, four were saved while two were found dead. Six other crewmembers were still missing on Thursday.

The ship was heading from Russia to Antalya and carrying roughly 3,300 tons of coal. Eleven crew members onboard were Ukrainian and one was Russian.

Several tugboats were dispatched to the scene as part of a rescue mission launched by the Coastal Safety Directorate-General. One tugboat with three crew members onboard hit rocks and crashed to pieces on Tuesday. The bodies of the two staff killed in the accident were identified as Cemil Özben, the captain of the tugboat, and Turgay Sarıboğa. Their bodies were taken to a local morgue. The third crew member, Ahmet Kasarcı, was rescued and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Coastal Safety General Director Salih Orakçı addressed criticism on Wednesday, telling reporters that the crew of the tugboat that crashed were not wearing life jackets during the mission and that the boat was suitable for the rescue effort.

"The captain should have planned the rescue operation properly. [He] has been in operations like this many times before," he said, adding: "The boat was a Norwegian-made vessel and designed only for search and rescue missions. There is no other like it in our region."

Retired captain Erdem Aydın, a friend of Özben, argued that Norwegian-made tugboats were not suitable for rescue missions in stormy Black Sea waters. He remarked that those who order crews to take on a mission are desk workers and have a lack of knowledge about what such missions entail. (Cihan/Sundays Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-12-09 14:00:01
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