NEWS

New light cast on tanker sinking

TAGS: Environment, Crime

The gash depicted in photographs and video shot last week as the Agia Zoni II was being hauled up from the seabed in the Saronic Gulf could back claims by the tanker’s owner that it was tampered with.

The Agia Zoni II sank in September while at anchor off Salamina and leaked large quantities of oil into the sea, causing a slick that coated several of the island’s beaches and reached the southern coast of Athens. The accident triggered a political firestorm for the government over its response.

The captain and the engineer were on board when the incident happened, with the latter saying that he heard a loud noise like a door slamming, just before the tanker started taking in water and listing.

The pair were rescued by a passing ship and are key witnesses in the investigation into the causes of the wreck.

From the outset, the Agia Zoni’s owner Thodoris Kountouris claimed that the sinking was the result of an act of malice.

A large inward-facing gash seen beneath the waterline of the tanker’s hull after it was pulled up may prove him right, though the expert assigned by the prosecutor to investigate the case has not reach any conclusions yet.

Some experts have suggested that the gash could have been caused by the ship hitting a rock while sailing, but the likelihood that it occurred while the Agia Zoni was at anchor has cast the case in a new light.

The incident brings to mind the 1997 sinking of the Mantoudi, a small supply ship that was said to have been sunk by a rival of its owner in the petrol business with a bomb planted by a former navy explosives expert.

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