March 2018
11:40 PM IST
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Maersk container ship fire: One crew member dies; four still missing
(MUMBAI, Mar 08, 2018):A Thai national, who was among the 23 seamen rescued from the container ship of Maersk Line that caught fire in the Arabian Sea off the Lakshadweep coast, has died, the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) said on Thursday.

A search was on for the other four missing crew members, including one Indian, a Coast Guard official said.

Fire continued to rage in the Singapore-flagged Maersk Honam, a 330-metre long vessel, where a massive blaze erupted on Tuesday night, forcing its 27 crew members to jump out into the sea waters.

Among the 27 crew members 13 were Indians, including the captain, nine Filipinos, two Thai sailors, and one each from the UK, Romania and South Africa.

While 23 crew members were rescued, one of them, a Thai sailor, died of burn injuries while being taken to Colombo, a DGS official said.

The vessel ALS Ceres, carrying the remaining 22 crew members, including 12 Indians, was expected to reach the nearest port Colombo later this evening, the official said.

Search and rescue operations for the four missing crew members continued with the help from the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.

The missing Indian crew member has been identified as Sakim Hegde, one of the cooks on board, a senior official from the DGS said on Wednesday.

Maersk Line also confirmed the death one of the evacuated Thai national.

The company in a statement said his health condition drastically deteriorated on Wednesday afternoon due to the injuries sustained in the fire.

"We are deeply saddened with the passing of one of our colleagues who in the first place had been evacuated. The seriousness of the event has escalated and everyone in Maersk is moved by this," Soren Toft, the chief operating officer and member of the executive board, A P Moller-Maersk, said.

"We are in contact with the family of the deceased and our thoughts and condolences go to them," he said.

Maersk Line had yesterday termed it as a "serious fire" with the cargo on board the 2017-commissioned vessel.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard Ship 'Shoor' was on the spot and fire fighting was on, a CG spokesperson said.

The container ship reportedly had chemicals and dangerous goods on board, he said.

The fire was raging through the front portion of the ship and slowly spreading towards its bridge, he said.

A thick plume of toxic fumes was seen emanating from the ship, he said, adding that high temperatures have melted the containers on board.

During the fire fighting operation, a few empty life boats were spotted by the Coast Guard near the fire-hit ship, the official said.

A DGS official yesterday said the fire is suspected to have started in one of the 7,860 containers on board the ship, which had a capacity to carry 15,262 standard 20-footer boxes.

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