NSRI Gordons Bay Spirit of Surfski

Cape Town - A 156m bulk carrier transporting rice to East Africa has run aground at Buffels Bay, near Knysna, after developing engine trouble early on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) volunteers battled through heavy surf to help the ship’s 19 crew members to abandon ship.

The contract salvage tug Smit Amandla had left Cape Town and was expected to arrive at the scene this evening, Smit salvage director David Main said on Thursday.

The nationality of the bulk carrier Kiani Satu is not yet known.

The ship was taken in tow by the ocean salvage tug Fairmont Glazier but, during the night, the tug lost the tow. The ship tried to anchor but the anchor did not hold in a strong onshore wind and 5m swells. It touched bottom at about 7am after drifting towards the shore during the early hours.

Volunteers were helping the ship’s crew off the vessel, said NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon.

The crew, believed to be Filipinos and Ukranians, were all safely ashore by 9.34am, Lambinon said.

Environmental risks are being assessed by the SA Maritime Safety Authority.

Cape Argus