One killed as ship carrying chemicals catches fire

shipGEORGE TOWN: An explosion aboard a Panamanian-registered vessel killed one person and injured five others during its voyage down the Malacca Strait near Kedah waters last night.

A tanker carrying chemicals, the Heung-A Pioneer, sent out an SOS after a fire broke out in the middle of the ship’s deck off Tanjung Dawai, 30km west of Sungai Petani, about 10pm.

A Myanmar national was killed while five others comprising Myanmar nationals and Koreans were injured.

Penang Port picked up their SOS call and stood by with a full-fledged emergency rescue team at the Butterworth Inner Wharves.

In a statement, Penang Port Acting Chief Executive Officer Rosihan Adi Baharuddin said the dead crew member and the injured were rushed to the Seberang Jaya Hospital.

“Due to the quick response of the Penang Port team, all emergency rescue authorities were assembled and were put on standby by 11.15pm to await the arrival of the ship, which was then still about 45 minutes away.

“The ship arrived at the wharves at 12.05pm and the captain of the ship reported that the fire had originated from the middle of the ship’s deck which in turn caused an explosion,” he said in a statement today.

The injured crew members were reported to be stable.

Rosihan said the explosion was being investigated by the authorities, adding that it did not interrupt regular movements at the port.

According to vessel tracking site MarineTraffic, Heung-A Pioneer had left Daesan port in Korea on April 5 and was headed to Ta Phut port in the Gulf of Thailand.