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Explosion on board bulk carrier injures four offshore Gibraltar

23 February 2021

An explosion on a bulk carrier vessel, the CSSC Cape Town, injured four people on February 19. The blast happened while the ship was in Gibraltar's territorial waters. Two of the injured were flown to hospital by helicopter after they suffered severe burns.

Port of Gibraltar - Image: Wikimedia/Port of Gibraltar
Port of Gibraltar - Image: Wikimedia/Port of Gibraltar

The Hong Kong registered CSSC Cape Town was carrying coal at the time of the incident. The explosion happened in the area of the vessel’s forecastle, an upper deck at the front of a ship, the Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) said in a statement.

No fire was reported on the ship following the explosion that happened at around 21:00 local time. Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) attended the scene and began a preliminary investigation into cause of the blast. The GPA said that pending any contrary conclusion by the RGP in their currently open investigation, there is no reported reason to suspect that any foul play gave rise to the explosion. 
The BPA said that two crew members were treated abord the vessel by paramedics from the Gibraltar Health Authority. Two other crew members were evacuated for urgent treatment at St Bernard's Hospital by the GHA. Both have now been transferred to Seville burns unit suffering from 40 and 25% burns. 
The vessel is now to the east of Gibraltar unable to anchor at present but in constant contact with port authorities. The vessel is stable and fully operational with the exception of its anchor equipment. The GPA will continue to work with the ship’s crew and its agents to assist in repairs, provisioning and, if possible, anchoring.
The GPA also confirmed that the CSSC Cape Town is loaded with 112,365 metric tonnes of coal, loaded at Curtis Bay Coal Terminal in the United States. This cargo does not represent a danger to the vessel or to other vessels in the immediate vicinity, the port authority said.

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