Three crewmembers injured and a five nautical miles fuel spill has been reported following the collision between a French flagged tanker and a local high seas tug in the narrowest part of the Magellan strait early Wednesday morning.
The actual collision took place five miles east of Punta Delgada, at 03:10 hours involving the 205 meters long "Berge Nice" transporting 33,500 tons of liquid propane gas from Bahía Blanca to Quintero, and 54 meters long Seacor-Laredo a vessel responsible for the logistic support of several oil rigs in the area. The three injured that are hospitalized in Punta Arenas Magallanes Clinic belonged to the tug.
According to the first reports from the Chilean Navy that rapidly responded to the emergency with support vessels and a helicopter, it's too soon to establish responsibilities in the collision and it will only be known when the investigation is concluded.
However Rear Admiral Arturo Ojeda responsible for the III Naval Zone in Punta Arenas said the accident occurred under good meteorological conditions, with 20 knot winds and in an area where the Magellan Strait narrows to just two miles.
The French "Berge Nice" which was carrying a contracted pilot experienced a two meters long gash in its port side just above the water line where one of the vessel's 1,200 tons fuel tanks is located. Even when fuel was pumped to the starboard tank, some finished in the sea causing the five miles long spill.
Seacor-Laredo suffered serious damage in the bow and could not operate its anchor system. However, both vessels are now in Punta Arenas where they arrived by their own means after undergoing inspections by Chilean Navy divers.
Dispersal elements and anti-contaminating barriers have been spread in the spill area and experts from Valparaíso were expected late Thursday in Punta Arenas to take over cleaning tasks.
The Magallanes branch of the Chilean Council for Defence of the State, responsible for keeping watch of government assets, described the situation caused by "mobile offenders" as a "serious environmental damage", and said it was coordinating actions with the Chilean III Naval Zone.
The actions include precautionary measures extensive to areas adjoining the oil spill and information gathering for any future repair payments demand.