One dead and two missing in oil tanker fire south of Hong Kong

 Image: Hong Kong Police
Image: Hong Kong Police
Image: Hong Kong Police
Image: Hong Kong Police

One person has died and two others have gone missing after a fire broke out on board an oil tanker in the waters south of Hong Kong's Lamma Island on Tuesday, January 8.

The Vietnamese-flagged Aulac Fortune was refueling from a nearby oil bunkering barge when the blaze erupted on its deck at around 11:30 local time.

Aulac Fortune's crew were in the process of connecting hoses to enable the tanker to take on fuel when they heard three explosions. The explosions were reportedly heard from as far as Lantau Island more than 21 kilometres away.

The crew immediately jumped into the water as their ship became engulfed in flames. Twenty-three of the tanker's crew and all four personnel on the bunkering barge were later accounted for, having been picked up out of the water by marine police rescue boats that arrived on scene.

Three of the survivors, including one bunkering barge crewmember, were rushed to hospitals in Hong Kong to be treated for injuries.

The lone confirmed fatality was also recovered from the water. Rescuers have noted the victim's corpse was burned and had head injuries as well as fractured limbs.

Firefighters that rushed to the scene were finally able to extinguish the blaze by 16:30. No oil spills have been reported.

Local authorities will conduct an investigation to determine whether the fire was a direct result of crew negligence.

Aulac Fortune was transporting kerosene from Dongguan, China, at the time of the incident.

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Baird Maritime / Work Boat World