Survivors coming to port
Survivors from the stricken containership MSC Flaminia, which caught fire and exploded in mid-Atlantic, will be landed at Falmouth late tonight (Wednesday) from the 300,000-ton tanker DR Crown.
Also onboard the DR Crown will be the body of the MSC Flaminia’s chief officer who, despite being rescued, died several hours after the shipboard explosion.
One crew member is reported missing – believed to have been killed in the explosion. Now salvage tugs are racing to the scene for what could be a lucrative salvage contract with the ship and cargo insured for $130 million.
The blazing hulk is drifting as a major salvage operation is mounted. Dutch salvors Smit have dispatched the 16,320-hp ocean going tug Fairmount Expedition, which had been on salvage station off the port for the past two months, to the last reported position of the MSC Flaminia. She was expected on scene last night. Enroute from Scotland is the salvage tug Anglian Sovereign.
At 10.07 last Saturday, Falmouth Coastguard received the relayed Mayday broadcast from the German registered MSC Flaminia reporting that the crew on board had abandoned the vessel.
Falmouth Coastguard broadcast an alert to all vessels in the area and the nearest vessel, which could provide assistance, was the oil tanker DS Crown that immediately changed course to intercept the MSC Flaminia.
DS Crown arrived on scene to confirm that the MSC Flaminia was still burning and recovered 24 people from a lifeboat and a life raft. Four crew had suffered injuries.
The MSC Flaminia was on a voyage from Charleston to Antwerp at the time of the fire with a crew of five Germans, three Poles and 15 Filipinos. The nationality of the two passengers is not known.
Four crew who suffered burns in the incident were taken to the Azores by another vessel, MSC Stella, with one man being flown to the mainland to a specialist burns unit hospital in Portugal.
The ship’s German operators are refusing to give details of the cargo in number four hold where the fire started.
Shipping pundits are claiming that one possible cause of the fire is the bleaching agent calcium hypochlorite. Several containerships carrying this cargo have caught fire.