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Cruise captain could face prison time for ramming into coral reef.

Indonesian authorities have said on Wednesday that the captain of a cruise ship that accidentally rammed his boat into a pristine coral reef could be charged.

The captain crashed the 90.6 meters MS Caledonian Sky into the reefs at Raja Ampat on March 4.

Raja Ampat coral reef is one of the world’s most beautiful coral reefs and it is often described as an “untouched” beach paradise.

“The destruction of Raja Ampat coral reefs, which were developed by nature for hundreds of years, was done in less than one day by Caledonian Sky and its captain,” Djoko Hartoyo, of the Information and Law Bureau of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, said in a statement.

“It is simply impossible to restore that part of Raja Ampat. Fish that were normally seen in that particular area were all gone,” He added.

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Noble Caledonia, the cruise company that operates the vessel, apologized for the incident. It said in a statement that the ship went aground, but did not give a reason why.

“We are working with local experts to understand how we can assist with the regeneration of the reef. We value our relationships around the world with local people and we are sorry to have impacted the local community,” the statement by Noble Caledonia said.

Residents were still indignant even after The company said it will establish a fund to help the local economy and help pay for repairs.

Doug Meikle, who runs a website supporting the work of the local Papuan community’s tourist accommodation association said in an email to CNN that “The damage done to the reef is not only a disaster from an environmental point of view, but also due to the fact that the livelihoods of local communities depend upon healthy reefs.”

One of the residents Ruben Sauyai said that he was about 200 feet away with some divers when the incident happened. “You could hear it crush the reef,” he said.

Ruben Meikle believes there’s a strong case to ban ships like this from the area.
“Quite apart from the risk of accidents, just anchoring such ships does incredible damage to reefs.”

Indonesian authorities have said that they believe the captain committed a crime and could face prison time if convicted.

“Insurance company may be willing to pay the environmental damage, but it does not absolve criminal side of the case,” authorities said.

Source : CNN

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