A fully loaded oil tanker caught fire off the east coast of Sri Lanka earlier on Thursday leaving one of its 23 crew members missing and another injured. Sri Lanka dispatched four navy ships to help rescue the trapped crew members and put out the fire.
The tanker known as New Diamond, a very large crude carrier (VLCC) was chartered by the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and was headed towards the Paradip Port in Odisha, where the state-run oil company operates a three lakh barrel-per-day refinery.
According to agency reports stating Sri Lankan navy spokesperson Capt Indika Silva, the fire started in the engine room of New Diamond and later spread across to other parts of the tanker.
#SavingLives #SAR #FireFighting assistance sought by Sri Lanka Navy from @IndiaCoastGuard for fire and explosion onboard Oil Tanker #MTNewDiamond 37 NM east off #Srilanka coast. #ICG ships and aircraft deployed for immediate assistance @DefenceMinIndia @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/OsvgyZfKq0
— Indian Coast Guard (@IndiaCoastGuard) September 3, 2020
According to Silva, by the time the Sri Lankan navy arrived at the spot, 19 of the crew members had left on lifeboats and were picked up by the Lankan ships. He said that as the navy ships tried to put out the fire, the captain and two other crew abandoned the New Diamond. However, the remaining crew member was missing.
The injured crew member has been identified as the third engineer of the tanker and is being taken to land in a navy boat, Silva said.
He said that two anti-submarine Russian ships anchored at a Sri Lankan port were also heading to the spot. The Russian ships had arrived at Hambantota port for replenishment and crew rest.
At the time the fire broke out, the Panama-registered ship was about 38 nautical miles (70 kilometres) east of Sri Lanka. The ship had sailed from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait, carrying Kuwait Export Crude, Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking data showed. It was estimated to be carrying 270,000 tonnes or the equivalent of about 2 million barrels of crude oil, according to reports.
– with inputs from Reuters and AP
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines