Clouds of black smoke filled the air following the incident, which has been described locally as one of the worst maritime accidents in United Arab Emirate waters.

But investigations since the event on February 10 have suggested that none of the oil being carried by the tanker was leaked into the sea.

The tanker, which was Maltese-registered, is believed to have been carrying 30,000 tonnes of oil condensates at time the of the collision with a container ship registered in Singapore in a busy shipping chancel a few miles off the port Jebel Ali.

Two of the tanker’s 22 tanks were ruptured, and a serious fire broke out which was not brought under control for several hours.

No-one died in the incident, but two crew members from the container ship had to be rescued from the water and suffered minor injuries.

The Malta Maritime Authority is now investigating what happened. In a statement, it said: “No pollution has so far been reported, although it appears that the Kashmir [the tanker] may have lost some of its cargo.

“Since Tuesday, the Malta Maritime Authority Merchant Shipping Directorate officials have been in constant contact with the International Safety Managers of the tanker and the appointed inspector in the UAE.”

Local media reported that inflatable booms were placed around the damaged tanker after the fire had been brought under control to prevent spillage of its cargo of oil, but ship operators said the damaged part of the tanker had been empty at the time of the accident.

A spokesman from the Dubai Environment Department told local newspaper The National that water samples taken from the area of the collision showed there had been little impact on the marine environment.

A spokesman for DP World, the operator of the nearby port Jebel Ali, told edie this week: “DP World is conducting its own independent investigation. Preliminary finds are expected later this month.”

He said the tanker has been removed from the channel and is anchored while authorities prepare to remove the cargo.

“All possible measures have been taken to assure against seepage. No environmental damage has been reported to date,” he added.

Kate Martin

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