Four crew members are reported missing following a serious fire that broke out in a cargo hold of the Maersk liner vessel Maersk Honam on Tuesday, March 6, at 15:20 GMT, the company informed.
After being unsuccessful in their firefighting efforts, the crew sent out a distress signal and 23 of a total of 27 crew members were evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres, which arrived at the scene around 18:30 GMT.
” The fire onboard the Maersk Honam continues and the situation of the vessel is very critical,” Maersk Line said in a statement.
Enroute from Singapore towards Suez, the vessel is currently positioned around 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman.
@IndiaCoastGuard swiftly responded to major fire onboard MV Maersk Honam about 650 NM from Kochi on 06 Mar. MRCC Mumbai coordinated immediate rescue of 23 out of 27 crew through merchant vessels in area. ICG ship Shoor diverted for further assistance. @DefenceMinIndia pic.twitter.com/JyXJDhr3Gb
— Indian Coast Guard (@IndiaCoastGuard) March 7, 2018
“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. This 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,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Board, A.P. Moller – Maersk.
The container vessels MSC Lauren, Edith Mærsk and Gerd Mærsk, all enroute in the Arabian Sea, have diverted their routes and are approaching the area with expected arrivals this morning local time. Weather conditions in the area are currently fair, Maersk Line said.
Furthermore, Maersk Line is in the process of informing the relatives of all crew members of the incident.
“The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members currently receiving medical first aid onboard the ALS Ceres. We will offer crisis counseling 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,” says Toft.
The 27 crew members include 13 Indian seafarers, nine from the Philippines, one from Romania, one from South Africa, two from Thailand and one from the United Kingdom.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, Maersk Line said, adding that an investigation will be carried out into the matter in cooperation with all relevant authorities.
The Singapore-flagged Maersk Honam has a nominal capacity of 15,262 TEU, and is carrying 7,860 containers.
Maersk Line said that all impacted customers would be contacted directly.