There is an argument to be made. The Bosporus Strait runs through the middle of Istanbul, one of the world’s largest cities, with a population of around 15 million. The narrow waterway is of critical importance to countries bordering the Black Sea, especially Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria and Romania.
The strait carries a huge volume of shipping, but poses considerable navigational difficulties. Mega-tankers carrying oil and gas ply back and forth along its narrow, sinuous 31-kilometre length, creating a constant threat of disaster.
Stricken ship crushes wooden waterfront mansion on Istanbul’s Bosporus
A cargo vessel crossing through the Bosphorus in Istanbul crashed into a waterside mansion on April 7 due to a technical fault, crushing the fragile wooden building. The Maltese-flagged Vitaspirit lost control and ploughed into the edifice. The building’s roof and upper floors collapsed, and television pictures showed the basement slumping into the water.
Such waterside mansions, known as yalis in Turkish, are among the most historic and expensive properties on the waterway that runs through Istanbul and divides Europe and Asia.
The Deniz Haber maritime news agency said that the 225-meter (740 foot) Vitaspirit, which was heading from Egypt to Ukraine, lost control due to a technical fault with its engines. Images showed the stricken vessel ramming the mansion on the Asian side of the Bosphorus with the tip of its bow, sending a cloud of dust and rubble into the air as the building collapsed.
The vessel was extracted from the mansion with the help of tugs but the Bosphorus was closed to shipping traffic in both directions, NTV television said. There were no casualties in the collision.
The wooden Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi mansion was built by Ottoman nobles in the 19th century. It had no permanent residents but was rented out for marriage ceremonies or concerts.
The Bosphorus is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and in 2017 it was transited by some 42,000 military, naval and commercial vessels.
The government says the risk of such accidents shows the need to build its planned and hugely controversial new canal for Istanbul that would take the shipping traffic and lessen the pressure on the Bosphorus.