High surf from thunderstorm grounds tanker in St. Kitts harbor; no reports of spilled fuel

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Storm grounds tanker in St. Kitts, no spill

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — A double-hulled tanker broke loose of its moorings and ran aground in a St. Kitts harbor amid high surf whipped up by a cluster of thunderstorms that threaten to form a tropical depression, officials said Tuesday.

No spills were reported from the stranded Azra-S tanker, which held roughly 18,000 barrels of diesel fuel and ran aground late Monday, but St. Kitts authorities were monitoring waters in Basseterre’s harbor.

“It broke its moorings due to rough seas and was grounded on the sea bed, just offshore. The stern is seated on the seabed and the bow is moving around,” McClean Hobson, the islands’ director of maritime affairs, said in a Tuesday statement.

A tugboat from the nearby Dutch island of St. Eustatius was expected to arrive to dislodge the Turkish-flagged tanker, which has two hulls to prevent its cargo from spilling. If the outer hull is breached, the inner hull keeps fuel in place.

Hobson said he expected no fuel spill, but cautioned that “anything can happen.”

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, schools and government offices in the British Virgin Islands were closed Tuesday due to heavy rains and a government statement warned of possible flash floods.

The weather system was traveling northwest and could also bring flooding to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Over the past couple of days, rough weather in the eastern Caribbean has toppled power lines, destroyed shacks and flooded businesses.

High winds stripped roofs from several homes in Trinidad and in Barbados, where authorities said a police station was flooded and five patrol cars were damaged.

Trinidad police said Tuesday that the storm uprooted a massive silk cotton tree estimated to be 200 years old.

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