A Filipino was one of at least four crew members reported missing after a blast hit a tanker off Malaysia on Thursday, a Malaysia-based news site said on Friday.
One crew member was killed while three others were injured in the 18-hour fire aboard the MV Bunga Alpinia 3 off Labuan in Malaysia, Malaysia’s The Star reported.
The report said police identified the missing crew members as:
Colanggoy Errol Calaluan, 22, from the Philippines
Muhammad Nazrin Khamasani, 20, from Kuala Lumpur
Mohd Hanafi Khalil, 24, from Malacca, and
Zahari Hassim, 46, from Negri Sembilan.
The ship’s owners, MISC Berhad, said the crew members included 23 Malaysians and six Filipinos.
A search by firemen and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency personnel was ongoing for the four missing men, who may have jumped off the tanker after the fire triggered multiple explosions.
Killed in the incident was Shahril Azmi Baharudin, 28, from Malacca. His body has been sent to the Labuan nucleus hospital.
Investigators suspect a lightning strike during a thunderstorm triggered the fire, which started at 2:30 a.m. at the Petronas methanol jetty at Pulau Enoe, the report said.
The tanker was being loaded with methanol at the time.
Firefighters brought the fire under control at about 8 p.m. Thursday, but firefighters said the flames would take a few more hours to be extinguished before they could board the tanker to search for the missing crewmen.
Labuan police head Superintendent Saiman Kasran said that according to witnesses, the fire started during flashes of lightning in the area.
He said the 38,000-tonne chemical tanker had a crew of 27. Twenty-two were working when the fire broke out.
Of the 22, 19 escaped but three suffered slight burns. The remaining five were seen jumping off the tanker when the explosions started.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Sabah chief First Admiral M. Karunathi said an attempt had been made to pull the ship out of the wharf with a tugboat but the cable burned.
The tanker drifted about 20 meters and was “sitting on a shallow seabed.”
Labuan fire chief Zainal Madasin said 71 firemen fought the blaze, which destroyed nearly half of the ship.
The report also quoted maritime technology experts in Petaling Jaya as saying lightning strikes or fires on ships carrying volatile cargo are rare.
“There have been two incidents in the country in the past five years where tanker ships being repaired in dockyards caught fire when flammable vapour from their tanks came into contact with sparks,” Prof Omar Yaakob of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said.
“But a tanker catching fire while in operation is almost unheard of as tankers are subject to much higher safety standards than normal ships,” he added.
Another maritime safety expert said ships were equipped with onboard lightning arrestors to channel the current from any lightning strike into the sea.