MOL Comfort major fire. How trustworthy is Indian Coast Guard?
July 9: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines in latest press-release issued on July 9 said that “..due to adverse weather, the work has not been progressing smoothly and the fire is not yet under control. Observations show that many containers on the deck have been burnt out”, notwithstanding ICG Samudra Prahari with its’ powerful firefighting equipment. As it can be seen on the photo, fire is already what is called “major” fire, situation seems to be critical. ICG ship Samudra Prahari is not of much help.
It’s important to note, that yesterday July 8 Indian media, starting from NDTV, said citing Indian Coat Guard, that the fire on MOL Comfort fore section was put under control by Indian Coast Guard. It’s definitely not the case, fire engulfed nearly all of fore section, far cry from being “under control”. This is the third time Indian media published to put it mild, not exactly correct information with regards to MOL Comfort disaster. First one was published on the first day of the disaster, when Indian media reported MOL Comfort broke in two and sank. Second and third were published yesterday, when media said that ICG put fire under control, adding in a brief history of the disaster, that “The Indian Coast Guard, Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Mumbai and other international agencies rescued the 26 crew members-12 Russians and 14 Filipinos-who abandoned the vessel and boarded two life rafts one lifeboat”. Crew actually, was rescued by nearby vessels, namely by nearest vessel, container ship Yantian Express. Operation was coordinated by MRCC Mumbai and by ICG – that’s what was said immediately after disaster and rescue operation. Now, 3 weeks after the events, operation transformed into ICG success. In all those, not exactly correct, stories, Indian media is citing Indian Coast Guard, which leads us to questioning Indian Coast Guard, so to say, seaworthiness.
Meanwhile, ICG website http://indiancoastguard.nic.in/ misses MOL Comfort accident totally – no mentioning of the disaster, no updates on salvage operation and fire, no photos, no videos – nothing. Maybe this accident is something of very little importance? Nevertheless, photos and videos sourced to Indian Coast Guard appear in the internet, not on Indian media websites, though, but on a foreign private website. Free of charge, or somebody’s initiative? Instead of being provided with professional first-hand information, we have to look at the photos and speculate on the situation and condition of vessel in distress.
Along with duties of rescue and salvage, there is another duty any Coast Guard should do – inform the public, timely and fully, on all the accidents, especially those which may affect environment, coastal population and shippers. Not much can be said yet about salvage mission success, but information mission is a total failure. As a Russian, I can only add, that in Russia, in this respect, things aren’t much better, it’s absolutely the same story.