Eighty four people were feared dead on Thursday (May 11) after a collision in the narrow dredged channels of the Rive Plate between a British freighter and a Liberian oil tanker.
AV Freighter burning, F/G, tanker burning in B/G
AV PAN FROM freighter TO tanker
AV Freighter in F/G & tanker in B/G
AV Freighter PAN TO tanker
Two ships burning in River Plate following collision.
Initials SGM/0300 SGM/0310
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Background: Eighty four people were feared dead on Thursday (May 11) after a collision in the narrow dredged channels of the Rive Plate between a British freighter and a Liberian oil tanker.
The two ships collided in thick fog just before dawn on Thursday, and both caught fire almost immediately. All 74 aboard the seven-thousand-ton British ship Royston Grange appeared to have died. The others feared dead wee aboard the 12,600-ton tanker Tien Chee. The fire began on the tanker, and spread rapidly to the Royston Grange. The flames were so intense that rescue vessels from Uruguay and Argentina were prevented from getting close to the ships. Rescue operations were also hindered by thick oil spilling from the tanker, and spreading for 500 yards (metres) around the vessel.
The Royston Grange, carrying 64 crew and 10 passengers including four women and a five-year-old girl, was on its way from Buenos Aires to London with a cargo of frozen beef. At the time of the collision it was heading for Montevideo, its first port of call. On Thursday night, it DID enter the port -- but under tow, and still burning fiercely. It was taken in by Uruguayan tug boats. It seemed, according to shipping experts, that no organised attempts to save the passengers and crew had been possible because of the fierce fire.
The Tien Chee, from which 31 crew members survived in lifeboats and in the water before being picked up by an Argentine coast guard vessel, was carrying 20,000 tons of crude oil from the Argentine port of Bahia Blanca to La Plate, also in Argentine. It was under charter to Argentina's state oil company.