Ukrainians inspect crash vessel

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am

A Ukrainian delegation is inspecting the Chinese vessel that collided with the Neftegaz-67.

Investigators were given permission to inspect the Chinese-registered Yaohai bulk carrier at Yam O on Sunday, Ukrainian Channel Five television reported.

Last Saturday, the tugboat sank after a collision with the Yaohai off Tuen Mun. Six Ukrainians and one Chinese were rescued, three bodies found, and 15 are still missing.

Meanwhile, cables have been released into the sea from vessels in preparation to raise the sunken Ukrainian tugboat.

A Marine Services Department spokeswoman said rescue craft continued to search for bodies or survivors. Diving had halted, she said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian and Hong Kong authorities, and media issued contradictory reports yesterday on the status of rescue efforts.

In Ukraine, reports that the search had ended intensified grief for relatives of the missing. 'They saw the news and came to us asking about it,' said Yuri Suptelya, member of a support team in Chernomorskoye, Ukraine, home of Chornomornaftogaz, the company that owns the tugboat. 'We are told the rescue mission is continuing,' he said, 'so we told them and they calmed down.'

The Hong Kong fire and marine departments both said yesterday that diving operations had ended.

But Ukrainian deputy transport minister Vasily Shevchenko divers would continue efforts, Ukrainian and Russian news agencies reported,