Tuesday, May 02, 2006
An explosion on board a supertanker some 215 nautical miles off the coast of Penang killed four Chinese nationals and injured a Filipino and a Singaporean. The blast, said to be from an exhaust pump, occurred around 5pm yesterday during some welding works on board the 30,000 tonne MT Suva. The vessel was headed to Saudi Arabia from Singapore. The dead were identified as Liu Yongqian, 27, Kong Fanlin, 27, Xu Xiaobin, 39, and Xia Zhibing, 29. Singaporean Lim Tuck Chow, 48, and Jesselton Claveradel, 25, were taken to a private hospital.The men were among 12 Singapore-based contractors who boarded the vessel at 3am on Saturday to carry out repair works on some empty tanks. A foreman, identified only as Lok, said the men were working in two groups when an exhaust pump exploded. “It was not a gas leak and there were no sparks or fire but the heat was intense,” said Lok, 50, at the Swettenham Pier. He said although the accident occurred nearer to Indonesia, a decision was made to turn the vessel back to Penang to send the injured to hospital. A Penang-based shipping agent said a speedboat was sent to the vessel, now docked some nine nautical miles off Muka Head, to bring in the injured. Northern region marine police chief Asst Comm Zainul Abidin Hassan said the police operations room received a distress call at 12.45pm and a police boat from Batu Uban was despatched to bring in the dead bodies.