Malabar Hill police will inquire into the last maintenance that the barge Orion II underwent before it suffered a gas leak that killed four crew members. Investigations with the barge owner, Mumbai-based shipping firm Shrikrishna Agencies, have revealed that the vessel underwent recent repairs.
“We are probing when was the last time the vessel underwent maintenance and whether any flaw was detected then,” said an officer at Malabar Hill police station. The police are awaiting a report from the Mercantile Marine Department before registering a criminal offence.
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The police have collected samples of the substance in the sludge tank, into which the men fell before dying of poisonous gas inhalation. “We have sent samples to the Kalina Forensic Sciences Laboratory. Their report will clarify what gases were present in the tank,” the officer said.
On Friday night the level of gases in the sludge tank, three decks below the main deck, rose dangerously as the crew was unloading a cargo of wheat from a vessel. One by one, each of the five men who went to investigate the leak were knocked unconscious. Three died before they could be rescued, and another, the barge master, died in hospital.