By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
SHIPPING company Iscomar said last night that the sinking of one of its cargo ships off Ibiza in the early hours of yesterday morning was probably due to “human error.” The 115-metre Don Pedro, with 150 tonnes of gasoline and 20 passengers on board, hit a small islet a mile out of port at around 3.05 and started taking on water.

Marine rescue teams reached the scene by 3.20 and a salvage tug managed to get a line to the stricken ship, but ten minutes later she sank.
Rescue sevices saved all the 20 crew members - all had to be plucked to sdafety from the sea.
One of the crew members said yesterday that the whole thing happened “so quickly” that they leapt over board for safety.
Only a few remained in hospital on the island yesterday evening after all were examined by doctors.
Most were suffering from shock.
The vessel, used to ship new cars, had no cargo on board at the time, a spokeswoman for the marine rescue service said.
She had set sail from Palma on Tuesday bound for Valencia via Ibiza.
In Valencia she would have picked up her new cargo for the Balearics.
The ship sank in water up to 45 metres deep and the 150 tonnes of fuel oil in its tanks began leaking into the sea promting a major contamintaion alert.

Yesterday afternoon environmental services were working to control the spill and there was concern that it could wash up on the popular tourist beaches if the spill is not dealt with quick enough.

However, the head of the Balearic maritime rescue service, Miguel Félix Chicón, said yesterday evening that the oil spill was under control and had been contained by 5pm.

A “considerbale” slick was spilling out of the cargo ship's tanks in a north easterly direction but salvage crews were confidfent they had the situation under control and that one salvage ship has already removed a sizeable amount of fuel from the sea.

Chicon said that the danger of an environmental disaters was minimal. Iscomar said that the ship, built in 1983, was sailing to close to the islet when the acident happened.

The merchant shipping and Balearic port authorities have opened a full inquiry into the incident.

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