A roll-on-roll-off vessel carrying seven tanker trucks loaded with 138 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sank in the narrow waterway, which separates the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, late on Saturday.

The accident has raised alarm over the safety of Istanbul’s coastal areas, including residential districts, in the event of an explosion.

Authorities had to battle bad weather and harsh currents off the Bosphorous for about 10 hours in order to seize the drifting vehicles.

“The danger is over… We were lucky,” said government transport official Baris Tozar, explaining that four of the trucks are safely tied up at a quay on the city’s Asian side.

Three others are still lying on rocks at the shore of the Ahirkapi district on the city’s European side, but are under control.

With bad weather preventing authorities from approaching the three tankers, they are now planning to tow them to a safe dock later on.

He said an explosion would have endangered long stretches of the coast.

“There is still some danger, even though it is not a serious one,” he said. “All precautions have been taken.”

Authorities closed all traffic on the seafront road and evacuated fishermen’s facilities on the coast.

The Bosphorus is expected to be re-opened shortly.

The waterway, which links the Black and Marmara seas, is one of the busiest in the world.

Together with the Dardanelles Strait, on the opposite side of the Marmara Sea, it forms the only outlet for Black Sea countries to the oceans.

The increasing passage in recent years of vessels carrying oil and gas has forced Turkish authorities to step up safety measures and impose some restrictions to the traffic, which drew protests particularly from Russia.

In 1979 and in 1994, tanker crashes in the Bosphorus claimed 41 and 28 lives respectively.

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