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Five dead after vapour explosion on Korean tanker

16 January 2012

The explosion tore the ship almost into two parts leaving it half-submerged. Initial reports suggest that it was caused by static electricity igniting fuel vapours during cleaning.

The Doora 3 stricken - Image courtesy of Korean Coast Guard/Reuters
The Doora 3 stricken - Image courtesy of Korean Coast Guard/Reuters

A Korean Coast Guard spokesman said the explosion on the 4,191-tonne freight ship, with 16 crew on board, happened in waters north of Jawol Island near Incheon.

Five people, including the captain, were rescued. At least two of the dead crewmen were from Myanmar, the spokesman said. The coast guard was trying to identify the bodies of the other crew. A search is still underway for six others that are missing. 

The cause of the explosion was not known immediately but the Yonhap news agency quoted the captain of the vessel as saying the blast had occurred whilst the crew were draining fuel vapors from an oil tank on the deck to remove residues. He said that static electricity may have ignited the gas, causing the explosion. 

No oil leakage was reported. The ship was heading south to return to Daesan, another port on the west coast, after unloading gasoline at the Incheon port.

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