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Dredger capsizes off Ria Formosa island of Armona

DredgerArmonaSmallA dredger has overturned off the Ria Formosa island of Armona. Four workers escaped and have been treated for hypothermia.

The accident occurred at 08:10 on Tuesday morning, January 16th, and is thought to have happened due to the uneven loading of sand but the Olhão mayor said it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.

The 80-metre dredger now lies on the seabed about a kilometre south-west of the Lavajo sand bar near Armona.

Sand was being taken from the area and deposited at Barril beach, Tavira, as part of stabilisation work to the shoreline.

Asked about the possibility of fuel spillage from the overturned vessel’s deposits, mayor António Pina said he had information that “the tanks did not have a lot of fuel” and that the maritime authorities were trying to understand how they can prevent or minimise fuel leakage.

The Navy already has spotted leaked fuel in the water but the Maritime Authority said there is no environmental risk.

According to the Port Captain of Olhão, Nunes Ferreira, “there are small leaks of fuel, although the weather conditions minimize the risk, causing its evaporation. The intention is to remove the fuel from the vessel. This is being evaluated by the maritime authorities and the company that owns the dredger, which has 48-hours to resolve the situation.”

According to Captain Ferreira, the four crew members were taken to Faro hospital and one of the men may have suffered a spinal injury.

According to the National Maritime Authority, the crew of the dredger was rescued by a water taxi from a few minutes after they fell in.

Anti-pollution barriers have been put in place to contain possible oil spills from the dredger. The port captain said, “We will keep an eye on the site during the night and we will continue with this work while we wait for the owner of the vessel to present the plan for its removal.”