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Severe drought forces authorities to bar the biggest ships into the canal in Panama

The Panama Canal. (Graham Chadwick/ALLSPORT, Getty Images)
Panama will temporarily limit the size of ships using the waterway because drought has lowered water levels in Gatun and Alhajuela lakes.
The Panama Canal Authority said Friday the restrictions take effect Sept. 8 but only a minority of ships now using the canal will be kept out. The restrictions have been expected by shippers.
Rainfall over the watershed feeding the lakes at the midsection of the waterway has fallen sharply as a result of the El Nino weather phenomenon. Similar problems occurred in 1997-98.
The authority said a ship’s maximum allowable draft will be 39 feet (11.89 meters) at first, but might be further reduced to 38.5 feet (11.73 meters) on Sept. 16. About five or six of the 36 ships now using the canal daily will be affected.
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Oil tanker catches fire off Shanghai, one dead

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Oil tanker Ye Chi (45,740dwt, built 2009), operated by China Shipping Group’s oil shipping arm China Shipping Tanker, caught fire yesterday afternoon off Dayangshan Island, Shanghai.
Five crew members were injured and one died after been sent to hospital, while the remaining 20 crew were rescued unharmed.
The tanker was carrying diesel from Shanghai to Singapore. The fire occurred in the accommodation area of the ship. Shanghai Maritime Rescue Center sent four ships and one helicopter in the rescue operations with the fire put out late last evening.
Currently authorities are investigating the incident.
The accident was the second involving a China Shipping tanker in the past two weeks. Another tanker operated by the company, Bai Chi, was involved in a collision at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Port on July 24th.
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