Gibraltar authorities launch probe into explosion on Hong Kong-flagged bulker

CSSC Cape Town (Photo: Beentjes)

The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) has launched an investigation into an explosion on board a foreign cargo vessel at the Port of Gibraltar on Friday, February 19, the Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) said in a press release on the day after the incident.

The explosion on the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier CSSC Cape Town occurred at approximately 21:10 local time on Friday. The vessel had recently arrived in Gibraltar with over 112,000 tonnes of coal loaded at the Port of Baltimore in the US state of Maryland.

Four crewmen were injured in the explosion. Two individuals were treated aboard the vessel by paramedics while the other two were more seriously hurt and had to be evacuated for urgent treatment at St Bernard’s Hospital on Gibraltar.

The two critically injured crewmen suffered from 40 per cent and 25 per cent burns, respectively, and have since been transferred to a dedicated burns unit in Seville, Spain.

The GPA said that, pending any contrary conclusion by the RGP in its currently open investigation, there is no reported reason at this point to suspect that any foul play led to the explosion.

The GPA added that CSSC Cape Town is now to the east of Gibraltar, unable to anchor at present but in constant contact with Gibraltar VTS. The vessel is stable and fully operational with the exception of its anchor equipment.

Port officials said that they will continue to work with the ship’s crew and its agents to assist in repairs, provisioning and, if possible, anchoring.

The GPA clarified that the cargo of coal does not represent a danger to the vessel or to other vessels in the immediate vicinity. The cargo is classed as non-dangerous under the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (also known as the FAL Convention).

Classification and flag state representatives and surveyors will also attend to carry out their own investigations aboard the vessel. It is also anticipated that additional crew will be brought to replace those injured.

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