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Offshore support vessel catches fire; one dead, another missing while 27 rescued

As many as 27 crew members of the Offshore Support Vessel, Coastal Jaguar which caught fire off the Visakhapatnam coast on August 12 were rescued by the Coast Guard. The body of a crew member found floating near the vessel was recovered while one more is still missing when reports last came in from the Port.

According to the Indian Coast Guard, about 29 crew and workers were present on board at the time of the incident, and 27 were rescued. While one body was found floating in the water, another person is said to be missing. Search is on to trace him.

The deceased person was identified as Ashish Kumar of Rajasthan while the missing person was identified as Vicky Chauhan of Uttar Pradesh, according to local police.

Of the 27 rescued, 15 suffered burns. While five were discharged after treatment, 10 have been admitted to a local hospital with 50 to 60 percent burns, and one of them who received 90 per cent burns is said to be critical.

The incident occurred at 11.30 hours about one to two nautical miles from the mouth of the Visakhapatnam harbor and one nautical mile from the Coast.

 Fighting fire on a ship is a different ball game, as there are fuel tanks that can explode and the body is made of steel, which heats up easily

After a loud explosion, crew and workers jump into the sea

According to initial reports, there was a loud explosion on board the vessel, thereafter the vessel was engulfed in thick flames. All the crew and workers jumped into the sea, abandoning the ship according to reports.

Indian Coast Ship Rani Rashmoni, which was on patrolling duty in the vicinity rushed to the spot and in coordination with Visakhapatnam Port Trust boats and Coastal Security Police, rescued the 27 crew members and workers.

ICGS Ship Samudra Paheredar, Coast Guard helicopter and ICGS C-432 (Fast interceptor), were pressed into service for rescue operation and dousing the fire.

According to Coast Guard sources water and foam were used to douse the fire and it took over eight hours to bring the flames under control. 

Difficult operation; rescuing the crew and fighting fire at once

“It was an extremely difficult operation, as the sea was rough and on the one hand we had to rescue the crew and on the other hand we were engaged in fire fighting. Fighting fire on a ship is a different ball game, as there are fuel tanks that can explode and the body is made of steel, which heats up easily. But braving the odds, the coastguards rescued 27 of them and handed them over to the Port authorities. We fished out one body and search is on for the missing man according to the sources.

The Mumbai-based offshore supply vessel was in the dry dock till recently in Visakhapatnam and was on trial run on August 12th, after a 40-day refit and overhaul. The ship was on contract to Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. 

Though it is still early to assess the cause of fire, sources say that there was an explosion in the engine room, which might have triggered the fire.

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