Singapore - Flagged Tanker Explodes
French Press
Singapore - Flagged Tanker Explodes
Mon Mar 1 13:24:20 2004

Singapore-flagged tanker explodes off US coast; at least three die
Sun Feb 29, 6:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Coast Guard searched for 18 crew members missing after a Singapore-flagged tanker exploded and sank off the US Atlantic coast.

USCG Photo

AP Photo
Slideshow: Tanker Explodes, Sinks Off Virginia Coast

Three members of the Bow Mariner's crew of 27 were confirmed dead in the explosion and sinking around 6:00 pm (2300 GMT) Saturday, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the Virginia coast, Coast Guard spokesman Donnie Brzuska said in a statement.

The 570-foot (174-meter) tanker was carrying more than 3.5 million gallons (13.25 million liters) of industrial ethanol from New York to Houston, Brzuska said.

The ship's owners, Norwegian-based Odfjell, said nine crew members had been rescued, but that three had died, six were in hospital, and 18 were missing as search operations continued.

The Coast Guard said the six survivors had been flown by helicopter to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.

The company said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened by this tragic accident that has caused loss of life."

Twenty-four of the crew were Filipino and three were Greek. Officials in Manila said two of those confirmed dead and six of the injured were Filipino.

Brzuska said two Coast Guard cutters and several aircraft were searching for survivors in the area where the Bow Mariner sank.

Of the six rescued crew members, Odfjell said five "are reportedly in good condition, while the condition of the sixth is stable and improving."

The Coast Guard released an infra-red film showing the stricken vessel listing and plunging bow first into the depths.

The tanker's owner confirmed that an explosion and fire had sunk the ship, but said the cause had not yet been determined.

It said company officials were on the scene to support the search operation and investigation.

"Bow Mariner was subject to periodical routine inspections in North America last year. No deficiencies where found during an inspection in Vancouver," the ship's owners said.

"In the last inspection in Philadelphia in October, five insignificant deficiencies were noted. These were corrected immediately and the ship sailed without delay," it said.

The ship's cargo, ethanol, is a grain alcohol that is highly flammable and is used as an additive in gasoline. Odfjell runs a fleet of 89 ships.

US authorities are evaluating environmental damage.

Odfjell said that Coast Guard overflights have assessed any potential oil or fuel leaks. Cleanup has not begun.

"Cleanup personnel and equipment are available and on stand by," it added.

====Anybody see film of those rescued ? Covered in Crude ? .....developing

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