Posted on February 12, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
Four weeks have passed since the initial explosion that cost the lives of more than a dozen seafarers but the fire onboard the two vessels shows no sign of stopping.
Maestro and Venice, the two tankers involved in the explosion are loaded with liquefied gas, which makes it difficult to predict when the burning will stop.
One tanker has drifted into Russian territorial waters while the second is located in international territory.
A tug has been engaged in firefighting operations on the two vessels, but the situation is a delicate one.
Local authorities fear that the fire-fighting efforts might cause both vessels to sink due to the high amount of water spray involved.
“There are four lesions on one, two on another. The sea tug “mercury” alternately irrigates both tankers which are anchored. How much fuel will be burn, hard to say. Maybe a week, and for two,” said in a statement a representative for Rosmorrechflot, the Russian Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transportation.
A lot of controversy surrounds the story, due to the alleged illicit activities that the two ships were involved in.
Both vessels are owned by companies who own no other ships.
According to the U.S. Treasury, the two vessels have been used to smuggle fuel into Syria.
Original Story Below:
Fourteen people were killed and at least five are missing, following an explosion that occurred during a refuelling operation in the Black Sea.
The Tanzanian-flagged LPG tanker, Maestro, was engaged in STS operations with the Tanzanian-flagged LPG tanker, Kandy (Venice), at the time of the incident.
The two ships were anchored near the southern entrance to the Kerch Strait, well within international waters.
Following the explosion, several seafarers jumped in the sea in order to avoid the fiery inferno.
The ensuing blaze reportedly managed to set the other vessel on fire.
The Kandy originally had a crew of 17, 9 Turkish and 8 Indian nationals, while the Maestro had a total crew of 14, 7 Turkish and 7 Indian nationals.
Rescuers managed to pull 12 people from the water and recovered 11 bodies.
3 further bodies were spotted by the search and rescue teams but could not be recovered at the time.
Another 5 people are still missing, but local authorities are conducting a search in order to safely rescue the unfortunate seafarers.
The Kandy and the Maestro both appear on a US treasury list as possible targets for sanctions over petroleum shipments to Syria.
Allegedly Candy would collect fuel from Russian Ports (Including Crimea), while Maestro would act as a shuttle, transporting fuel into Syria.
The US originally tightened sanctions against Syria back in 2011, in response to President Bashar al-Assad's alleged atrocities against the Syrian people.