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Ship carrying 4,190 cars sinks off Singapore
Updated: 2004-05-23 15:40

A ship carrying 4,190 South Korean and Japanese cars sank after colliding with an oil tanker south of Singapore, port officials and a ship operator said on Sunday.

The collision between the oil tanker Mt Kaminesan loaded with 279,949 tonnes of crude oil and car carrier MV Hyundai No 105 occurred on Saturday just before midnight, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a statement.

"All the cars sank. But there is no spill (of crude oil) from the tanker," said MPA spokeswoman Theresa Pong.

The MV Hyundai was carrying about 3,000 new cars exported by South Korea's largest automaker, Hyundai Motor Co and its Kia Motors affiliate as well as over 1,000 second-hand Japanese cars, the ship operator, Eukor Car Carriers, told Reuters.

The MV Hyundai's crew of 20 -- four Koreans and 16 Filipinos -- were rescued before the ship sank and there were no injuries to members of either vessel, the authority said.

"Prior to the collision, warnings were given to the two vessels by the MPA's vessel traffic information service. The two vessels also communicated with each other," the statement said.

The Korean automakers and the Eukor Car Carriers, which chartered the sunken ship from Panama, said they had no financial damages from the accident.

"The exported cars have been paid already and they are insured for accident," said Jake Jang, a Hyundai Motor spokesman.

The 184-meter-long and 31-meter-wide ship, which was built in 1987, was bound for Germany, carrying such models as the small-sized passenger car Click, sports utility vehicles, Santa Fe and Sorento, for exports to Russia, Finland, Germany and other European countries, Jang said.

Hyundai has stockpiles of those cars, if European dealerships want them to be shipped again, he added.

Carl Hagman, the chief executive of the Eukor Car Carriers, which is operating 83 vessels, told Reuters that the doomed ship was insured with Norwegian Hull Club, and damages would be fully compensated.

The MV Hyundai vessel was taken over by the Eukor Car Carriers in 2002 from Hyundai Merchant Marine Co <011200.KS>.

Singapore's port operations and vessel traffic was unaffected in the city-state, one of the world's busiest ports, the statement added. Anti-pollution craft would continue to monitor the area.

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