Cheers as sunken Thai river barge floats

13 Jun 2011

Onlookers cheered as a sunken Thai river barge was refloated yesterday. The BM6 barge was transporting 2,400 tonnes of sugar when it went down on 31 May in the Chao Phraya River in the central region of Thailand.

As sugar from the barge dissolved in the river water it killed a large number of marine animals. Thai authorities reacted quickly and salvaged around 90 per cent of the sugar cargo and put microbes in the vessel’s hull to kill off bacteria.

The boat itself could not be salvaged due to strong tidal movements. After 12 days under water, Thai navy crewmen managed to raise the barge after fitting flotation pontoons to it and then dragging it 500m where the salvage operation concluded.  

When the mishap first occurred, Thai marine and environment officers feared that if the whole cargo of sugar found its way into the river then fish and aquatic life would die in the river and as far south as the Gulf of Thailand.

The BM6, owned by Alpha Marine Supply, sank after it hit a bridge column in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya north of Bangkok. As well as decimating river fish, the vessel blocked the flow of water in the Chao Phraya.

Due to rising river water, it could not flow past the barge, the river bank opposite was damaged and several houses were in danger of being submerged. Ayutthaya provincial authorities had to reinforce the river bank with sandbags and supporting posts to protect the residences. 

Tags: Thai barge floats

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