Blast kills one on berthed vessel in Zamboanga City, Philippines

Photo: Philippine Coast Guard

One person was killed and two others have gone missing following an explosion on a vessel berthed in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines on Friday, April 16.

The incident occurred at 23:34 local time on Friday just as the crew of the motor launch Laisa May were starting up their vessel’s engine in preparation for sailing out to Sulu province over 200 kilometres away.

The blast was followed by a blaze that then quickly spread throughout the vessel, which was carrying a cargo of over 150 barrels of petrol at the time.

The Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessels BRP Bagacay and BRP Malamawi were among the emergency response assets that were deployed to the scene to assist in firefighting and search and rescue (SAR) efforts.

All known fires were extinguished by 06:35 on Saturday, April 17, the coast guard confirmed.

The launch was completely razed with only its bottom hull remaining above water by Saturday morning.

Local media has reported that one of Laisa May‘s crewmembers was found dead at the scene while two others are unaccounted for.

The captain and one other crewman suffered serious burn injuries and have since been brought to hospital. The remaining three crewmembers sustained less severe injuries and were treated on-site by responding emergency medical personnel.

Arson investigators said Laisa May‘s engine emitted sparks as it was being started. The sparks then landed onto some petrol that had leaked out of the vessel’s cargo of barrels.

A local fire official estimated the damage at around PHP2 million (US$41,300).

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