Shipping accidents in Europe are increasing again and last year 61 people were killed. One reason is believed to be the increase in maritime traffic after the crisis year of 2009. There is also concern about more serious accidents due to ships being larger.
For the fourth consecutive year, the European Maritime Safety Agency, EMSA, is publishing a summary of accidents in and around European waters. After a decline in 2009, the number of accidents has increased again. Of the 559 that occurred last year, 45% were collisions, 22% were groundings and 13% were fires and explosions. Shipwrecks accounted for less than 5% of the total. Of the 61 people who lost their lives at sea, 29 were on merchant ships, 20 on fishing vessels and 12 on other types of commercial vessels such as tugboats, anchor ships and supply ships for oil platforms. The death rate is up 17% from the previous year but is still lower than the figure of over 80 who died in 2007 and 2008.
Larger ships may increase risks
The reason for the increase in accidents is stated as more frequent traffic. The EMSA report also states that the risk of major accidents increases as ships constructed become larger. The largest accident last year occurred in November off the coast of Bulgaria. The 33 year old cargo ship Karim 1 sank after a collision with the tanker Alessando DP. Five crewmen could be rescued, but five drowned. The largest ship that sank was Kea, which was 9800 gross registered tonnes. After having drifted while listing badly in rough seas, on March 30 she sank off the northwest of Spain. She had over 1000 tonnes of oil aboard and caused an almost three kilometer long oil slick. The majority of accidents in European waters in 2010 occurred in the Atlantic and the North Sea (64%) while 14% occurred in the Baltic Sea. The Mediterranean and the Black Sea accounted for over 20%, which is a major increase on the previous year.