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Four missing following fire on Maersk vessel

Situation on board critical after crew fail to contain blaze

FOUR crew members remain missing after a serious fire broke out in a cargo hold on the Singapore-flagged, 15,262 teu Maersk Honam on Tuesday.

The 2017-built vessel was en route from Singapore to Suez when the fire started around 900 miles southeast of Salalah, Oman, the company said in a statement.

The ship was carrying 7,860 containers.

The crew sent out a distress signal and 23 crew members were evacuated to ALS Ceres, which arrived on the scene at 18.30 hrs.

“We’ve received the news of Maersk Honam and the four missing crew members with the deepest regret and are now doing our outmost to continue the ongoing search and rescue operations,” said Maersk chief operating officer Søren Toft. “This is being done by rerouting our own vessels, with assistance of vessels in the area — most notably ALS Ceres that thankfully acted promptly upon our distress call — and the local authorities.”

MSC Lauren, Edith Mærsk and Gerd Mærsk, all en route in the Arabian Sea, have diverted and are approaching the area with expected arrivals in the early morning of Wednesday 7 March, local time. Weather conditions in the area are currently fair.

Of the 27 crewmembers, 13 are Indian nationals, nine are Filipinos, two are from Thailand, one from Romania, one from South Africa, and one is British. 

“The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members currently receiving medical first aid on board ALS Ceres,” Mr Toft said. “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.”

The cause of the fire remains unknown, but the situation on board is still critical, Maersk said.

It added it would investigate with the co-operation of relevant authorities.

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