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Tugboat explosion kills seven off Qatar

09 May 2012

Seven people were killed in a violent gas explosion and fire on a Danish-owned tug operating in Qatar’s Ras Laffan offshore field on April 29. The crew of the Svitzer tug Al Deebel (438gross tonnes) were carrying out maintenance on a single-point mooring buoy for transferring liquid natural gas into tankers 30 miles from the coast when the explosion occurred in the engine room, a Svitzer spokesman said. 

The Svitzer tug Al Deebel was carrying out maintenance on an LNG mooring buoy when the explosion occurred
The Svitzer tug Al Deebel was carrying out maintenance on an LNG mooring buoy when the explosion occurred

Six of those killed were crew members, and the seventh an employee of a local oil company. A further four crew were injured, with only one of those on board escaping injury, according to website maritimedanmark.dk.

Four of the dead were Indonesian, one an Indian and the remaining two British, including the vessel’s captain, Pete Jordan.

Twelve rescue vessels helped tackle the blaze on the Panamanian-registered vessel and rescue helicopters helped evacuate the wounded. Despite the explosion and fire on board the tug did not sink and was towed to Ras Laffan port for inspection.

Svitzer has sent several experts to Qatar. They are working closely with local authorities to determine the cause of the accident.

 "It is the worst accident we've ever been hit by. It is deeply tragic, "said Svitzer communications director Jens Mogensen Viby to maritimedanmark.dk.

According to the Hull and East Riding News, Captain Jordan, an ex-RNLI lifeboat crewman in his native Yorkshire, had received gallantry awards for rescues in the North Sea, including that of the four-man crew of Panamanian freighter Revi, a rescue described as "the most dramatic in modern RNLI history".

After working on tugs in the Humber and with the RNLI at Spurn Point, he joined Svitzer in the Gulf where he worked for three months a year. He was months away from retirement.




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