8 March 2018

South Africa: Maersk Ship Fire - Uncertainty Over Fate of South African Crew Member

Four crew members are missing after the cargo ship Maersk Honam caught fire in the Arabian Sea.

The Danish shipping company said there were 27 crew members aboard the ship when the incident happened, including a South African.

It is unclear whether the South African is among the missing.

According to the company, the ship was en route to the Suez Canal in Egypt, from Singapore, when the fire broke out in the cargo hold on Tuesday.

"After being unsuccessful in their firefighting efforts, the crew sent out a distress signal and a total of 23 crew members were safely evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres, which arrived at the scene around 18:30 GMT [on Tuesday]," the company said in a statement.

One of the 23 died after being rescued.

The remaining 22 are on their way to Sri Lanka. At the time of publication, the ship was about 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah in Oman.

Search and rescue operations are continuing for the missing crew members.

Maersk said the cause of the fire was unknown.

Søren Toft, chief operating officer and member of the executive board of AP Moller-Maersk, said the company would continue to offer support for the evacuated crew while the search continues.

"We've received the news of Maersk Honam and the four missing crew members with the deepest regret and are now doing our ... [utmost] to continue the ongoing search and rescue operations," Toft said.

"The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members currently receiving medical first aid [aboard] the ALS Ceres."

"We will offer crisis counselling for the seafarers signing-off and returning to their families and our thoughts and deepest empathy go out to the families of the crew members that are still unaccounted for. We will offer them all the support we can in this very difficult situation," Toft said.

The company added that it was in the process of notifying relatives of all crew members of the situation.

"Maersk Line will investigate the matter thoroughly, in cooperation with all relevant authorities."

Source: News24

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