4 Missing After Fire on Maersk Containership

4 crew members are missing after a serious fire broke out on a Maersk containership in the Arabian Sea. 

The 2017-built Maersk Honam was en route from Singapore to Suez when the fire engulfed the vessel’s hold at around 1300 GMT yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters onboard tried to contain the fire but after several unsuccessful attempts the crew sent out a distress call to local emergency services. 23 out of 27 crew members were evacuated on to ALS Ceres at around 1830 GMT. An explosion is then reported to have taken place with flaes rising up to 25 metres from the main deck.

Search and rescue operations are ongoing for the missing crew members.

The Singapore-flagged vessel is currently 900 nm Southeast of Salalah Oman and the situation was described as “very critical” by Maersk. Two of the rescued crew members are receiving medical attention on the ALS Ceres. Søren Toft, coo and member of the Executive Board, AP Moller – Maersk, said:

“We’ve received the news of Maersk Honam and the four missing crew members with the deepest regret and are now doing our outmost to continue the ongoing search and rescue operations. This by rerouting our own vessels, with assistance of vessels in the area – most notably ALS Ceres that thankfully acted promptly upon our distress call – and the local authorities,”

“We will offer crisis counselling for the seafarers signing-off and returning to their families and our thoughts and deepest empathy go out to the families of the crew members that are still unaccounted for. We will offer them all the support we can in this very difficult situation.”

The nationalities of the 27 crew members are: India (13), the Phillipines (9), Romania (1), South Africa (1), Thailand (2) and the United Kingdom (1).

The Maersk Honam is carrying 7,860 containers. Container fires can be extremely difficult to bring under control reaching temperatures of over 500 degrees centigrade and spreading quickly to other containers and burning for weeks on end.