Three Feared Dead in Explosion at Sea

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Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Three crewmembers are presumed dead after an unexplained explosion in the engine room of a Diaz Traw-ling fishing vessel on Wednesday evening. The MFV Diaz was reported to be fishing 111 miles from LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz and 155 miles from Walvis Bay when a loud explosion rocked the engine room at 18h10. In a statement released by Diaz Trawling, the company said the explosion rapidly developed into a sudden and uncontrollable fire. “It is not known at this point what could have caused the explosion in the engine room,” the company said. The fire was however so strong that rescuers could not approach the vessel to recover the bodies of the three dead crewmen. All three were engineers on the vessel, but their names cannot be released until their families have been notified. “The vessel ‘Diaz’ remains afloat at high seas and is engulfed by huge flames, rendering it impossible to come within close proximity,” the company said. Yesterday afternoon a source at the company disclosed that the fire on the vessel was still raging, but that the vessel had not yet sunk. Diaz Trawling said that four other fishing vessels were standing close by to monitor the situation. Chief Executive of Diaz Fishing, Sidney Martin, said the vessel was chartered to Novanam since February 2006. The crew and employees belonged to Novanam, he said, adding that three people had so far not been accounted for and it was feared that they might have lost their lives. He said that Diaz Trawling regretted the accident. Diaz Trawling said the captain decided the whole crew should abandon ship once it became clear that the fire had reached a point where it was endangering their lives. Five other fishing vessels operating nearby in the same area rapidly proceeded towards the stricken vessel. The company said that at 19h45 three lifeboats carrying the crew were found and they were safely transferred to the MFV Komukandi.