[MIDDLE EAST / 1979 MT INDEPENDENTA INCIDENT] Original 9 photographs showing the Independenta's burning after the explosion in 1979, Haydarpasa Port offshore

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[MT INDEPENDENTA INCIDENT], Istanbul, 1979.

Original 9 photographs. All photo sizes: 18x13 cm. A very good photograph collection.

A photograph collection showing the Independenta's burning after the explosion in 1979, Haydarpasa Port offshore. The photos are taken from the land.

MT Independenta was a large Romanian crude oil carrier. She collided in 1979 with a Greek freighter at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus, Turkey, and exploded. She caught fire and was grounded. Almost all of the tanker's crew members died. The wreck of the Independenta burned for weeks, causing heavy air and sea pollution in the Istanbul area and the Sea of Marmara.

By mid-November 1979, the Independența, carrying 94,000 tons (714,760 barrels) of crude oil from Es Sider, Libya to Constanța, Romania dropped anchor about 4 nautical miles off the Haydarpaşa Breakwater at the southern entrance of the Istanbul Strait. She was waiting for a maritime pilot for the guidance of her 19th passage through the strait. The Greek cargo ship M/V Evriali (10,000 DWT) was transporting 7,400 tons of steel from Mariupol, Ukraine (formerly Zhdanov) to Italy, and had already passed the strait southwards.

Early in the morning of 15 November at 04:35, Evriali collided with Independenta hitting the Romanian ship between the number 3 and 4 tanks, on the starboard side. The Turkish pilot that helped Evriali navigate the strait, Dincer Sumerkan, got off the Greek ship earlier, instructing them to follow a course at 260 degrees right, however, the Greek cargo ship took a course of 160 degrees left.

The sparks from the collision at 04:35 caused a big explosion on Independenta followed 3 minutes later by another explosion. A third explosion occurred at 04:47. The Independenta ran aground half a mile off the Port of Haydarpasa. 43 members of the tanker's crew lost their lives; only 3 survived the catastrophic accident. Almost all the victims lost their lives in the water when burning oil on the surface was driven towards the shore by the wind; the sailors who survived had jumped on the other side of the ship, against the wind, being later rescued by boats.

The Turkish Navy immediately attempted to extinguish the fire. However, these efforts had to be abandoned due to the intensity of the fire. The Director of the Sea of Marmara District took over the spill on 19 November, and the Navy withdrew.

The Greek captain of the Evriali, Alekos Adamopulos (29 years old at that time), was sentenced to 20 months in jail. The difference of time between his arrest and the 20 months, was converted into an $850 fine.

The Istanbul Strait remained closed for weeks. The wreck affected the area for some years until it was broken up and salvaged to a shipyard in Tuzla. (Wikipedia).