[UPDATE - Tuesday, January 8, 4.45pm]
The oil tanker fire could take weeks to put out, a long-serving firefighter has said.
Three fireboats, a government helicopter and a marine police vessel were sent to deal with the blaze, the first major oil tanker fire in Hong Kong waters in at least three decades.
Describing the incident as extremely rare, the senior officer said he had never seen such a fire during his 30 years’ service, but routine training prepared firefighters for one.
“Depending on the situation, the two major fireboats spray up firefighting foam to coat the tanker, to suppress the combustion. Other fireboats use water jets to cool the vessel,” the insider said, on condition of anonymity.
Emergency workers rescued 24 sailors who had either fallen or jumped into the sea to escape the blaze. About four were taken to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai.
At least one person is dead and two others are missing after an oil and chemical tanker caught fire off the coast of Lamma Island in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Emergency personnel rescued 23 sailors who had either fallen or jumped into the sea to escape the blaze. About four were taken to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai for medical treatment.
The vessel, oil and chemical tanker Aulac Fortune, was registered in Vietnam. It caught fire about one nautical mile south of Lamma Island soon after 11.30am, according to police. Sources reported hearing at least three explosions.
An initial investigation showed there were at least 25 crew members on board at the time of the incident.
“There was an explosion and some people fell into the water from the vessel,” a police spokesman said.
Lantau residents from Mui Wo, Discovery Bay, and even Shui Hau have experienced a large “boom” and shaking windows.— William Nee (@williamnee) January 8, 2019
Anyone know what’s going on?
The spokesman said that in addition to marine police vessels, fireboats and a government helicopter were also deployed in the rescue operation, which was still continuing.
The Aulac Fortune had arrived in Hong Kong before dawn on Tuesday and its last port call had been in Dongguan in Guangdong province.
Residents as far away as Discovery Bay and Mui Wo on Lantau Island reported hearing a loud boom, and shaking windows.
“I thought it was an earthquake when the windows started to shake,” Mui Wo resident Rhea Nee, 42, said.
“We usually have strong winds ... but when I looked outside, the trees were perfectly still.”
Some shaken residents left their homes and gathered outside.
“I was waiting for the tremors and they didn’t come,” Nee said. “I ran out barefoot as I was folding my kids’ clothes. I ended up outside holding a stack of clothes.
“The windows shook violently. Like when there is a [typhoon signal No 10].”