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MSC Ilona

MSC Ilona
Accident date
Accident area
Pearl River, Guangdong
Spill area
Cause of spill
Nature of pollutant
Bunker fuel
Quantity spilled
450 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Container ship
Built date
300 m
40 m
NSB Niederelbe Schiffarhrtsgesellschaft mbH & CO. KG, Buxtehude, Germany
Classification society
Germanischer Lloyd

The incident

The container ship MSC Ilona, en route from Shenzhen to Shanghai (China), was hit by the Panamanian container ship Hyundai Advance, travelling from Yantian to Singapore. The port side of the MSC Ilona was ripped open, damaging the bunker tanks and causing 1283 tonnes of bunker fuel to be released. A slick 16 km long by 200 m wide formed at the mouth of Pearl River.

The Hyundai Advance continued its voyage and was repaired in Singapore. The MSC Ilona initially remained on site before being moved to an anchor position allocated to the vessel by
the Chinese authorities. It was only several weeks after the collision and after extensive cleaning and emergency repair measures that the vessel was allowed to leave for Singapore. 

Spill response

The Chinese authorities mobilised nine spill response vessels equipped with booms, skimmers and sorbents. Sorbent rolls proved to be very effective, however their implementation was too difficult from these large vessels. The authorities therefore called upon fishermen from the surrounding villages and islands, paying them US$600 a day and US$240 per tonne recovered. In total, 100 fishing vessels were involved in the response. 

Cost and impact

The total cost of clean-up operations is estimated at around US$6 million.

The incident resulted in 8,000 dead birds and 13,000 oiled birds according to official sources.


Collision of the MV MSC Ilona with MV Hyunday Advance on 7 december 2004 off Hong Kong / China. Investigation report 371/04. BSU 2005

Last update on 23/07/2014
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