Hristo Alexiev: The situation is critical, the load has shifted and the weather forecast is not good

The barn is filled with water, which means that the cargo ship Vera SU begins to sink. This is what the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Hristo Alexiev announced at a briefing in the Yailata area. According to him, the situation was critical, the load had shifted and the weather forecast for the coming days was not good.

"Our priority is to save lives and that is why we acted preventively at night, around 3 o'clock, we built a facility with which the crew could be evacuated", Hristo Alexiev said.

Minister Alexiev stated that all possible options for the release of the cargo and the ship had been considered. "The place where the vessel is stranded is extremely unsuitable and inconvenient for possible landings, as the coastline is a protected area and vehicles, equipment and machinery are not allowed", the Minister said.

"The Bulgarian state is not late with its actions and reaction in the situation with the ship. According to European regulations, the transported cargo is not classified as dangerous. There are countries where measures are taken to detain ships and take away the powers of shipowners, but this is only when dangerous goods are transported. The detention of the ship cannot take place on the first day, according to Bulgarian law. This would be perceived as a hostile act and a gross violation of trade relations, according to European international maritime norms, which could lead to serious legal claims against the state", Hristo Alexiev said.

The General Director of the Emergency and Rescue Activity  Directorate General at the Maritime Administration - Varna Rumen Nikolov announced that the cargo in the ship was dry. "The tanks were open and we were all convinced that there was no drastic flooding or filling of the hold. There is water penetration into it, but it may be due to an open vent. Tomorrow morning, actions will be taken to remove the next amount of fuel to avoid a spill. The waves were extremely large over the past 24 hours and only thanks to our order to turn on the ship's engine kept the vessel in this position. At the moment the ship is stabilized and a bigger gap is awaited for further actions to be taken for unloading the cargo", Rumen Nikolov said.

In order to control the situation, a National Crisis Management Unit was established, chaired by the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Hristo Alexiev and the Minister of Environment and Water Asen Lichev. Members of the staff are Deputy Defense Minister Plamen Yordanov, Deputy Interior Minister Tanya Raycheva, Deputy Justice Minister Maria Pavlova and Deputy Foreign Minister Vasiliy Takev.

Until present, Minister Hristo Alexiev personally monitored and coordinated the activity of all structures that are under his authority. "I will not allow inadequate reactions on our part and I think I proved it with my actions", Alexiev stated firmly.