13 jan 2013
Naval barge that collided into century-old bridge near Tamil Nadu coast removed
Rameswaram: A naval barge that collided with the century-old Pamban Rail Bridge near Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu this morning has been removed and taken to sea. However, the tug vessel that it adrift from still remains aground; rescue operations are on.
The ship was towing the naval barge from Kolkata to a port near Mumbai. It first went aground hitting rocks on the January 10 following bad weather. It was a disaster waiting to happen as the vessel remained stuck just 50 metres away from the rail bridge. The barge that was afloat around 100 metres away hit the Pamban Rail Bridge this morning, seen as an architectural and structural marvel.
Local port authorities had deployed four fishing trawlers to rescue the ship and the barge. Speaking to NDTV last night Mr Mari Selvam, the Port Officer told NDTV “the barge is afloat and if everything goes well we should be able to tow the tug by early morning”.
Initial reports suggest the damage to the rail bridge – a century-old structure that’s vying for UNESCO’s heritage status – is minor. Railway Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mr Venugopal, based in Madurai, told NDTV, “the damage seems minor and we are looking into it; hopefully it shouldn’t take long to set it right.”
It is not clear whether the key mechanical part of the rail bridge suffered any damage due to the collision. Southern Railways has suspended rail services to and from Rameswaram as trains bound for the temple town would have go on this rail bridge. Mr Bhoopathy, Senior PRO based in Chennai, told NDTV, “all trains for Rameswaram would stop at Mandapam Railway station”.
The rail bridge built across the sea in 1913 with limited technology available then opens up on both sides to allow ships to pass through and is a major tourist attraction. It connects Rameswaram and the mainland.