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March 5th, 2010

Two Crew Members Killed in Oil Tanker Fire While Welding

Two workers on the tanker MT Hercules, identified as Sylvester Keterim, 24,and Shezi Chang Shiah Joo, 22, both from Sabah, were killed onboard the vessel in a fire Tuesday night.

These two workers were doing welding work on one of the oil tanks in the tanker when it suddenly exploded.  The rescue team sent out in the area overcame the flames with the help of the tanker crew.

Both maritime workers are believed to have been killed on the spot.  A section of the 322m ship, which anchored about three nautical miles south off Pulau Kukup, Pontian, caught fire after the explosion.  The ship was anchored in Kukup waters to undergo maintenance work.

On board this oil tanker were 24 crew and 20 contract workers, comprising Malaysian, Indonesian, Philippines and Indian nationals.  The vessel was registered in Port Klang.

The additional crew members and maritime workers are safe and remain on the tanker.

Fires on board oil tankers are more dangerous than on board other maritime vessels because of the high flammability of the oil.  You are basically sitting on a bomb when you work on board an oil tanker; the ship’s entire cargo is flammable liquid.  Oil tankers and supertankers are not even allowed to come into some ports because of the volatility of the ship’s cargo.  This oil tanker may have had onboard equipment that was not properly maintained, leading to the explosion.  If this is the case, the vessel can be considered unseaworthy.

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