The captain of the damaged Greek tanker Castor, which is carrying 29,000 tons of gasoline and is in danger
of exploding, has reportedly told Spanish authorities he and his crew will abandon ship if it was not allowed refuge immediately, the ship owners said
. "The rescue team have now issued a warning of a strong smell of gasoline around the vessel," Athenian Sea Carriers said in a statement. "Fears are rising that the deterioration of the vessel's current situation could bring about a possible explosion."
Tanker experts are agreed that the rubbing of deck plates alongside a crack in the ship's deck could lead to a spark that would ignite the ship's cargo.
"A statement was issued today from the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Center in Madrid officially requesting the vessel to abandon its current position and remain at least 30 miles off the Spanish coast," said Athenian Sea Carriers. The Gibralter authorities also officially denied the vessel entry into Gibraltar or its approaches, it said. The ship was refused refuge on Thursday by the Moroccan port of Nador. The crack developed in heavy seas between December 26 and December 31 on a voyage from Constanza in Romania to Lagos. - (Reuters)