Ukrainian tow boat 'Chelyabinsk' collides with bridge at Baja, Hungary

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

On Monday, Ukrainian towboat "Chelyabinsk" ((uk))Ukrainian language: ‍Челябінськ ran its barge caravan into a bridge pillar on the river Danube at Baja, Hungary. The caravan broke up, but it continued its way downstream later that day. According to multiple sources, no casualties were reported.

Towboat Chelyabinsk collides with Türr István Bridge, Baja, Hungary (Image: Lower Danube Valley Water Authority, Hungary)

The caravan consisted of six grain barges pushed by Chelyabinsk, a towboat of the Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company. Its downstream route crossed the rail-road bridge at Baja over the Danube at about marker 1480.

The caravan moved too far left from the navigable passage and hit a pillar of the bridge around 12:54 CET (1154 UTC) while trying to turn right. Gyula Szabó, a nautical expert interviewed by TV2, attributed the event to pilot error. An eyewitness told TV2 heavy winds were a contributing factor.

The caravan broke up after the collision. Boats anchored at Baja caught the barges. A police inspection found no leaks on them and the re-assembled caravan left the scene the same day.

Talking to RTL Klub, another helmsman, Dávid Pethő, pointed out this section is hard to navigate through with this kind of setup: "[This was] a caravan of about 200 meters in length [and] 33 meters in width with a mass, together with its cargo, of about 10 thousand metric tonnes. Keeping in mind that the horizontal clearance [under] the Baja bridge averages at only 60 metres, this is very large and very bulky." ((hu))Hungarian language: ‍Kb. 200 méteres karaván, 33 méter a szélessége, és kb. 10 000 tonna az ő tömege, így megrakottan. Ez egy hatalmas nagy méret és egy hatalmas nagy súly ahhoz képest, hogy a bajai hídnak az átlag hajózó szélessége csupán 60 méter. Pethő also told RTL Klub this bridge-crossing manoeuvre starts three kilometres upstream from the bridge, with no room for error.

No significant damage was reported on the bridge, and cross-river traffic did not halt. The police categorised the case as an administrative offence.


Sources

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