19 Rescued After Italian Tanker Runs Aground off Sicily
The Italian Coast Guard has resuced 19 crew members after their chemical tanker ran aground in high winds near Syracuse on the eastern coast of Sicily on Staurday.
The coast guard said in a statement that the Gelso M was driven into rocks by high winds and rough seas. The grounding damaged the hull causing the ship to take on water.
The ship's captain gave the order to abaondon ship but the tankers position on the rocks made it impossible for nearby vessels to approach it.
Four helicopters lifted the 19 crew members to safety. The coast guard reports that all of the crew is in good health.
The Gelso M was not carrying any oil or chemical products at the time of the grounding. Officials say there is little threat of an oil spill thanks to the ships double hull.
Coast guard rescuers suggested that in the harsh conditions the ship's captain should not have been sailing so close to the coast.
According to weather reports for the area, winds were at 40 - 45 mph and waves reached 33 feet.
The ship's manager, Augusta Due, a Rome based company, says an engine onboard experienced problems becuase of the rough seas making it difficult for the captain to maneuver away from the rocks.
Smit Salvage will be handling the salvage of the Gelso M.
The Gelso M was built in 2008 and has been in service since June 2008. The Italian flagged tanker is 17,999 DWT and is owned by Verimar Chemical Ltd. and operated by Augusta Due SRL, both based in Rome.