Fire crews extinguish Taiwan tanker fire in Malacca Strait: official | world | Hindustan Times
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Fire crews extinguish Taiwan tanker fire in Malacca Strait: official

world Updated: Aug 20, 2009 12:13 IST

Fire crews on Thursday extinguished a blaze aboard a Taiwanese oil tanker carrying 58,000 tonnes of naphtha fuel in the Malacca Strait, nearly two days after a collision with another ship, police said.

Nine Chinese crew members remained missing after the MT Formosa Product Brick tanker was in a collision with a Greek-managed bulk carrier on the vital Asian shipping route, Rizal Ramli, marine police chief in Port Dickson, told AFP.

"We have managed to put out the fire," Rizal said.

Maritime officials said the tanker's deck and bridge were destroyed in the fire, and the ship was listing on its left side and drifting.

Rizal said the tanker posed no threat to passing ships.

The collision happened Tuesday night in clear weather off Port Dickson, in the southern state of Negeri Sembilan.

Rizal said a rescue team would board the ship once it was declared safe to look for the missing crew members.

"We are still trying the find the crew members. We will enter the ship once it is safe," he added.

The tanker was loaded with 58,000 tonnes of naphtha and was heading for South Korea via Singapore.

Naphtha is a flammable liquid mixture of hydrocarbons distilled from petroleum, coal tar and natural gas. It is used as fuel, as solvents and in making some chemicals.

Police on Wednesday said 16 crew members of the tanker were rescued and had been admitted to hospital in Port Dickson, south of Kuala Lumpur.

The Greek-managed bulk carrier was not seriously damaged in the collision and had been ordered to berth near Port Dickson for investigation.

Jiang Han Cheng, captain of the tanker, reportedly said the collision happened suddenly and caused the ship's fuel compartment to rupture.

"All of a sudden, we heard a loud thud, followed by a series of explosions. In seconds, the ship was engulfed in flames and the situation turned chaotic," he said, according to New Straits Times newspaper.

"Some of my crew managed to jump overboard, but I believe some are still trapped in the engine room."

At least 94,000 ships sail the narrow Malacca Strait each year, making it one of the busiest waterways in the world.