More than 9 million people in four Pakistani cities face an “imminent threat” to their drinking water from ailing fuel tankers, according to an official report.
Briefly undamaged in last week’s maritime collision, the four tankers are now adrift along the coast of southwestern Pakistan, according to Khalid Kabir, information minister for Baluchistan province.
The Iranian-flagged oil tanker Sanchi overturned off the coast of the port city of Sistan-Baluchistan on Feb. 6, breaking into four parts in the collision with the Hijab.
Kabir said the wrecked cargo ships could pose an imminent threat to water supplies, especially in Quetta, Karachi, Gwadar and Pishin — all cities within immediate reach of the oil tanker wreckage.
Two other Iranian tankers remain stranded off the coast of Bahrain.
The National Disaster Management Authority says the tankers are carrying about 2.75 million tons of gasoline.
On Saturday, Baluchistan officials said they would begin distributing emergency clean water supplies to the affected areas, while filling up containers with diesel fuel.
While the casualties from the sinking of the Sanchi and the loss of its cargo have been put at about 38, the tragedy has also made headlines around the world as environmental and safety experts warning about the implications of an oil spill, highlighting the precarious health effects on the fishing communities surrounding the coasts of Iran, Pakistan and Pakistan.
Two weeks after the disaster, the Iranian foreign ministry has confirmed that as many as 16 of the ships’ crew — 24 men and two women — had been killed, while Iranians have been detained for questioning by Russian officials and Bahraini authorities.
The oil tanker’s owner, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and its insurance company have hired a crisis management team to recover the wrecked cargo.
The ship’s black box recorder, which could shed light on the cause of the collision, is said to be intact and has not been damaged.