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At least four dead following oil tanker fire off UAE coast

03 February 2020

A fire on a disused oil tanker on January 29 has killed four people and injured eight others. The fire broke out on the Zoya 1 while it was around 21 miles (34km) off the coast of Sharjah, UAE.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

At the time of the blaze, 12 crew members and 44 technicians were on board. The tanker was not carrying any cargo when the fire broke out. Initial reports by UAE officials indicated that a successful rescue of all those on board had been conducted. However, officials at the Indian embassy in Dubai contradicted those reports and said that two Indian nationals were dead, and three others were missing. 

Local media later reported that two people had died, eight were injured, and three remained missing. Two of the missing crew members were later confirmed dead after their bodies were found days later, on February 2. DNA tests are being conducted to confirm whether they are two of the missing crew members.   

It is thought that the ship’s crew were cleaning out the ship's tanks while preparing the Zoya 1 for scrapping when the fire broke out. The UAE’s Federal Authority for Land and Maritime Transport said the fire was quickly brought under control by firefighters. An investigation has begun to find the cause of the fire.

According to Gulf News, UAE officials are keeping the survivors of the fire in a hotel and are refusing to allow their employer to send them back to the damaged tanker. The Zoya 1 has been stationary off the coast of the UAE for at least 12 months after a three-year legal dispute involving the ship’s owner left the ship stranded. 

Some local media have reported that the crew have been working in extremely poor conditions, having not been paid in months and unsure of when the next crew change would be.

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