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Poland captain imprisoned for gas platform clash

A Polish sea captain was charged of running his 2,000-metric-ton (2,200-U.S. ton) ship into  North Sea Viking Echo gas platform while drunken and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Zbigniew Krakowski, 56, pleaded guilty to exceeding the blood alcohol limit for someone in charge of a sea vessel by nearly three times and hitting the Viking Echo gas platform, 65 kilometers (40 miles) off the eastern English coast on Aug. 4.

Prosecutor Stuart Lody told Lincoln Crown Court that Krakowski, from Szczecin in northwestern Poland, was sailing his ship, the Jork, from Lubeck in Germany to the port of New Holland in England when the crash happened.

The ship hit the rig after Krakowski, a seaman with more than 30 years' experience, made a mistake steering the ship, Lody said.

He only realized the danger the ship was in when the vessel, which was loaded with wheat, was about 100 meters (110 yards) from the rig. He tried to alter course, but hit the rig.

The Jork continued another 500 meters (550 yards) before it stopped and started listing, Lody said. The vessel sank a day later after its hull burst, caused by the wheat on board swelling.

The accident caused damage costing between 7 million and 10 million pounds (Ђ10.1 million and Ђ14.4 million; US$14.6 million and US$20.8 million). Repair work on the rig cannot begin until April, the prosecutor said.

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