Fire on ship off Mumbai coast kills its senior officer; injures two
The vessel was discharging crude oil brought from Saudi Arabia at the Jawahar Deep island when it suffered an explosion on board; alert crew averted major offshore mishap
A fire on a vessel carrying 98,000 tonnes of crude oil last weekend has left its senior officer dead and two other crew members critically injured. While the dead body of the deceased has been handed over to his family, the injured including a junior engineer are undergoing treatment at the Masina Hospital in Mazgaon.
The crude oil carrying vessel, MT Maharaja Agrasen arrived near Jawahar Dweep (an island off the coast of Mumbai) on April 9 and was anchored near its jetty number 4 at around 7.30 pm on Saturday, April 13, to discharge oil from the tanker when it suffered an explosion and thus caught fire. The fire was brought under control in time by its alert crew. This ship, that had 39 crew members on board, had arrived from Saudi Arab with crude oil.
Nishith Mishra, Additional Commissioner of Police (South region) said that an Accidental Death Record (ADR) has been registered in the case and inquiry has begun. The vessel belongs to the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI).
Authorities in the shipping industry claimed that the incident could have escalated into something much worse. Manoj Yadav, general secretary of Forward Seaman Union of India (FSUI), told mid-day that it could have caused an oil spill in the sea. "Inquiry should be conducted to avoid such incidents in the future. This is the second such incident of fire on-board this year," he said.
Oil tankers carry oil of different grades and quality, which can produce flammable vapors and gases when loaded for transportation from different locations, Yadav said, adding, "Even with no cargo on board, there can be harmful flammable gases present in the hold. When the vapour produced by an oil cargo is mixed with certain concentrations of air primarily containing oxygen, it can result in explosion damaging life, property, and marine environment."
Two injured stable
The injured were immediately rushed to Masina hospital where chief engineer Prakash Patyal, 54, from Karnataka succumbed to burn injuries on April 15. Subhash Ravthan , 31, the second engineer from Uttarakhand and Tejo Charuvilayal, 26, a trainee technical officer, from Kalyan, are undergoing treatment at the hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
"He is not able to speak as his face and other parts of his body are covered in bandages," said Ravthan's younger brother Sumit. Charuvilayal is recovering "but we don't know what unfolded that day," said his cousin at the hospital.
The SCI spokesperson said that M T Maharaja Agrasen suffered an explosion while discharging cargo (crude oil) at Jawahar Dweep 4. "The three crew members affected were working in the Inert Gas Room when a flash fire broke out. The fire was contained and extinguished immediately using portable extinguishers by the ship's staff. The condition of the two injured is now stable and improving," he said. The ship is currently around 15 nautical miles into deep sea. The police will visit the ship to check if there was any negligence or it was merely an accident.
Day MT Maharaja Agrasen caught fire
75th anniversary of the 1944 Mumbai dock explosion
Amount of crude oil the vessel was carrying
39 No. of crew members on board MT Maharaja Agrasen
15 Distance (in nautical miles) into deep sea at which the ship is currently docked
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