UPDATED: Hong Kong Lamma Island oil tanker blaze could take weeks to extinguish, veteran firefighter says

UPDATED: Hong Kong Lamma Island oil tanker blaze could take weeks to extinguish, veteran firefighter says

One dead and two others missing as emergency crews battle deadly oil tanker blaze off HK’s Lamma Island

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According to the Hong Kong Police, there was an explosion on the vessel.
Photo: Hong Kong Police Facebook

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Firefighters carry an injured man tot her Marine Police Aberdeen Base.
Photo: K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

[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.

A rescued crew member arrives at Ruttonjee Hospital.
Photo: Sum Lok-kei/SCMP

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.

 

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.

Emergency personnel rescued 24 sailors who had either fallen or jumped into the sea to escape the blaze.
Photo: K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

“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].”

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