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Tanker and freighter collide off Britain

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Lille (France) (AFP)

A tanker and a cargo ship collided off Britain on Saturday on one of the world's busiest shipping routes, but no injuries or spills were reported, authorities said.

The tanker had 38,000 tonnes of petrol onboard when it collided at around 0100 GMT with a 220-metre (720-foot) cargo vessel in the Strait of Dover, which is where the North Sea and the Channel meet.

"Although both vessels have been damaged, there is no water ingress and no pollution," Britain's maritime and coastguard agency said.

"There are no injuries and all of the crew are accounted for."

Photos released by French maritime authorities showed extensive damage to the side of the 138-metre tanker Seafrontier, which had 27 people on board. The freighter Huyan Endeavour was able to continue on its way.

"We don't know the circumstances of the accident," a French maritime authority source told AFP. "The weather conditions were not bad, but the area where the collision happened is relatively narrow, with lots of traffic."

The Huyan Endeavour, which was not carrying any cargo and had 22 crew members on board, was headed for Lagos, while Seafrontier was bound for Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, the British coastguard said.

The vessels have Chinese and Indian crews on board and both were sailing under a Hong Kong flag.

At the time of the collision the two vessels were located in British waters, about 18 nautical miles from the northern French coastal town of Dunkirk near the border with Belgium.

The Strait of Dover is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, used daily by about a quarter of global traffic or more than 400 commercial ships.

Pleasure and fishing vessels and cross-Channel ferries also use the zone.

French maritime authorities said shifting sandbanks, fog and powerful tides add to the perils of the chokepoint.

The Seafrontier may head to a French or Dutch port for repairs, the French maritime source said.

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