A fuel tank exploded and caught fire close to a cruise ship in the North Mole Cruise Line terminal of the British territory of Gibraltar on Tuesday, injuring at least two people. The diesel fuel tank was used to refuel ships, and was located extremely close to the giant Royal Caribbean cruise ship the Independence of the Seas. This type of fiery explosion occurring so close to one of the world’s biggest cruise liners is extremely scary.
The crew and passengers aboard the vessel made an emergency departure after the blast. The cruise liner is carrying 3,634 passengers. Reports conflict concerning whether injuries were reported on board the ship. At least one news source indicates that 10 passengers have received medical care on board the vessel as the result of the explosion. Additionally, two people were injured, one severely. A welder working on the tank is being treated at a hospital in Seville.
Air service to Gibraltar has been suspended and all port area offices have been closed. Local investigators told the media that the possibility of adjacent tanks overheating and/or exploding cannot yet be ruled out.
The blast was probably caused by a spark from welding operations although police were not ruling out any possibility including that of a terrorist attack or other security incident. Firefighters directed jets of water at the blaze from tugboats.
Gibraltar is a 6.5-square-kilometre British territory of around 30,000 people off the tip of southern Spain.