Damaged Tanker Impounded

Wednesday, May 23, 2001
An oil tanker that blew up in the Black Sea this month killing two crew was impounded by Romania on Tuesday after its Bulgarian owners failed to pay a rescue operation bill of almost $1 million. A Romanian coast guard spokeswoman said two Bulgarian tug boats had tried to tow the 75,000-tonne "Mesta" away from just outside Constanta harbour before a 2:00 p.m. deadline for its owners to pay up. "The Mesta has now been seized by the coast guard," she said. "The Bulgarians failed to pay a $900,000 debt to Romanian authorities to cover the cost of the rescue operations." Officials at Navibulgar, the company that owns the Mesta, were not immediately available for comment. The tanker, whose 32 other crew members were rescued while firefighters spent 15 hours putting out the blaze on May 8, is being guarded by one Romanian military vessel. "If the Bulgarians fail to pay, then according to the international agreements the ship may be sold at a tender," said one Romanian official who declined to be named.- (Reuters)

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