Four crew members were missing as an explosion
followed by a massive fire ripped through a container ship with several Indian
crew on board, off the Agatti Islands, near Lakshadweep island off the south
west coast of the country an Indian Coast Guard official said.
Casualties are feared in the disaster that struck
on the high seas around 9.45 p.m. on March 6th night. The cause of
the incident which occurred off the south-west coast of India, is not yet
The Indian Coast Guard’s Maritime Rescue
Coordination Centre, Mumbai, received a distress call from the
Singapore-flagged Container ship “Maersk Honam”.
The ship had left Singapore on March 1, on way to
Suez in Egypt and has a crew of 27, including 13 Indians and the rest of
different nationalities. The captain is also an Indian and the remaining crews
are Philipino, British, Romanian and Thai. At the time of the distress call,
the ship was at a distance of 340 nautical miles from Agatti Islands in
The Martime Rescue Coordination Centre alerted
all merchant ships near the location, through the satellite based communication
network, the International Safety Net (ISN).
A merchant navy ship MV Als Cicero, which reached
Maersk Honam at late on March sixth
night reported that the container vessel was blazing with flames from the main
deck of the ship leaping up to the ship’s bridge height of about 25 metres. The
crew had abandoned the ship as fire spread beyond their control.
Mearsk Honam had 27 crew onboard, out of which 23
have been rescued by Als Cicero. The remaining four whose nationality is not
clear, are reported missing.
Simultaneously an Indian coastguard vessel ICGS
Shoor, patrolling near Lakshadweep Islands was diverted to assist the
distressed vessel. ICGS Shoor is an Offshore patrol vessel with specialised firefighting
equipment on board.
The Coastguards had ironically planned to deploy
its Dornier D-228 maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Agatti Island for
search and rescue on March seventh. A spokesman of the coast guard said Search
Operations are on and ICG assets have been pressed into action.
“It is our priority to save and rescue the four
missing crew and also continue our efforts to salvage the vessel with
assistance of specialized vessels which is being arranged in co-ordination with
the Ship agency. The Coastguards have diverted four merchant navy ships near
the location to assist the distressed ship.
At present, the search operation is in progress
by merchant vessels Als Cicero, Seaspan Zambezi, Navigator Centauri and Al