Maersk Ship Fire: Three Crew of Missing Four Found Dead

 07 Mar 2018 09.00am

The remains of three out of the four missing crew members who were caught in a fire on a Maersk containership in the Arabian Sea have been found.

The unidentified human remains of the crew members were found on the Maersk Honam vessel.

In an official statement, Maersk said: "Given the time passed and the severe fire damages of the vessel we must conclude by now that we have lost all four colleagues who have been missing since the fire onboard Maersk Honam which began on 6 March, 2018.

"All four families of our deceased colleagues have been informed."

Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at Maersk, said: "Our most heartfelt condolences go out to families of our deceased colleagues.

"We share their sorrow and do our utmost to support them in this devastating time."

A thorough search on board the Maersk Honam continues.

However, Maersk has announced that the active search and rescue mission at sea will be brought to a halt.

The search and rescue operation began immediately after Maersk Honam had sent out a distress signal on March 6 due to a serious fire aboard, adding that colleagues who initially received intensive care were in a general ward and are "recovering well".

Several container vessels diverted their route to assist in the search and rescue operation.

Maersk has reported that the medical conditions of the evacuated crew members are "progressing positively".

All 22 have received medical treatment and the majority have been released from hospitals.

A crisis psychologist has been made available to all crew.

Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer for Maersk Line, said: “Our colleagues that were evacuated to local hospitals in varying conditions of health are improving and we are now preparing to bring them back to their families as their condition allows."

One of Maersk's crewmembers caught in the Maersk fire, a Thai national, died in hospital on March 8, 2018.

The India Marine Police is conducting a routine investigation of the incident, and they will be interviewing all crew members.

The affected ship – the Maersk Honam, a 15,000 TEU vessel – left the Suez Canal when a fire broke out approximately 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Oman.

Evacuated crew members have disembarked in the cities of Cochin and Trivandrum in Southern India.

The Indian Coast Guard has a vessel present onsite which initiated firefighting during March 8.

Specialized firefighting vessels have been engaged and the first two vessels arrived on location in the early morning on March 9 local time where they initiated the firefighting. 

Commenting on the tragedy in a previous statement, Laursen said: “We are appreciative of the partnering assistance we’ve received from local Indian authorities and we must now let the salvage team do their work.

"It is still too early to determine the cause of the fire or the impact to the vessel or cargo.

"Obviously, finding the cause of the fire is very important to us and a full investigation will be conducted as soon as possible.”

The salvage operation is led by Smit Salvage and Ardent – two best-in-class companies within maritime salvage operations.

Maersk Line is cooperating with the salvors and has sent two technical engineers to Salalah, Oman, to work closely with Smit and Ardent.

As yet the cause of the fire remains unknown.

This is an ongoing story that will continue to be updated.