Four crew members have been seriously injured, and one is still missing after the Japanese tanker Shoko Maru exploded off the country’s south-west coast near Himeji port earlier this morning.
Prior to the explosion, the 998-tonne tanker belonging to Syoho Shipping, unloaded the crude and was stationary close to Hyogo prefecture’s coast when the fire engulfed the vessel.
Seven out of eight crew members were rescued, four of them with serious burns were taken to a near-by hospital. The fate of the captain is still unknown as the Japanese coast guard search operation continues.
What caused the explosion is still unclear, but according to Akihiro Komura, an official from Syoho Shipping “a crew member was using a grinder to remove paint and that seems to have triggered the blast, which we believe could have occurred when the remnants of the oil caught fire” reported the AFP.
“It is a Japanese ship and belongs to our company. All the crew members are Japanese nationals. We have confirmed seven out of the eight are alive and one, believed to be the captain, is still missing,” added Mr. Komura.
Investigation into the cause of the fire is being done by the cost guard officials.
World Maritime News Staff, May 29, 2014