Efforts continued on a war-footing on Monday to combat the oil spill from a Panaman ship that crashed into another vessel in Mumbai harbour as it threatened to spread further along the Konkan coastline, officials said.
Taking a grim view of the situation arising out of the oil spill off Mumbai, Maharashtra environment minister, Mr Suresh Shetty, said he would conduct an aerial survey of the affected areas later in the day.
"The situation is very serious and the oil slick seems to be spreading. I shall make an aerial survey and decide on the next course of action," Mr Shetty told IANS.
Mr Shetty was closeted with officials from various departments since Monday morning to discuss the oil spillage that threatens the Konkan coastline comprising Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.
Hectic efforts, meanwhile, continued to combat the oil spill spanning around two miles in the Arabian Sea, three days after Panaman cargo carrier MSC Chitra and a St. Kitts ship MV Khalijia-III collided outside the Mumbai harbour, barely five km from south Mumbai.
In the biggest such operation mounted so far in the Indian sea waters, authorities have deployed five Indian Coast Guard (ICG) ships, one helicopter and one small aircraft for controlling the massive oil spill, an official said.
The affected ship, MSC Chitra, was loaded with an estimated 2,600 tonnes of oil, 300 tonnes of diesel and 89 tonnes of lubricating oil at the time of the accident.
The ship has also dangerously tilted at nearly 70 degrees and nearly 30 huge containers have so far fallen off into the sea.
Some containers are floating in the choppy Arabian Sea in the busy navigation channels giving entry and exit into the country's one of the oldest and largest ports - the Mumbai Port and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust respectively.
In view of the serious hazard the floating containers pose to vessels navigating in the area, the shipping traffic has been kept on hold for the time being.
Ships like the ICG Sankalp, Amrit Kaur, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Kamla Devi and C-145 - have joined the ICG AOPV Sangram, which was deployed since Sunday to monitor the oil spill and guide relief efforts.
A Chetak helicopter and a small Dornier aircraft were pressed into service for aerial spray of dispersants to tackle the thick oil slick. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr Ashok Chavan, on Monday undertook an aerial survey of the oil spill off the Mumbai coast.
"Chavan undertook an aerial survey of the spill," official sources told PTI.
He said the state government was taking all necessary steps to contain the spill and described it as a matter of concern.