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Oil Tanker Catches Fire in Hong Kong, Killing One and Leaving Two Missing

An oil tanker caught fire in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning (8 January 2019), leaving one man dead and rescuers scrambling to find two other crew members who were missing.

At least 23 others were rescued.

Initial reports suggest the incident occurred as the two ships were in the process of connecting fuel hoses, a source said.

The source said the oil barge was able to leave the scene, and the cause of the explosion was being investigated.

A police spokeswoman said there were 26 men on board the tanker when the blaze erupted, most of whom were retrieved from the sea off the coast of Lamma Island.

 Rescue efforts were continuing into the afternoon.

Authorities said the blaze, which began at around 11.30am and was finally put out at 4.30pm, is believed to have started when the Aulac Fortune, a Vietnamese-registered vessel, was in the process of being refuelled by an oil barge.

“Before refuelling there were three reports of explosions before the oil tanker burst into flames,” a source said.

Three helicopters have been sent to the scene and are still searching for the missing sailors, while three fireboats, and marine police vessels were also sent to the area.

One sailor is in a serious condition suffering from burns, and another, a 46-year-old Singaporean man, had shoulder wounds.

A photo posted on the Hong Kong police’s Facebook page showed a thick black cloud shrouding the ship, the Aulac Fortune, which is registered in Vietnam.

Residents from other outlying islands reportedly felt windows shake and heard a loud boom when the tanker went up in flames.

“I thought it was an earthquake when the windows started to shake,” Mui Wo resident Rhea Nee, 42, said.

Lamma Island is a residential island two miles off the coast of Hong Kong Island, although the accident happened on the opposite side of Lamma.

The accident happened a day after the tanker left the southern Chinese city of Dongguan in the heart of the Pearl River Delta.



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