Thursday, February 12, 2009
This was the extraordinary scene when a tanker burst into flames today after colliding with another ship off the coast of Dubai. Black smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the air after the Maltese tanker struck a "feeder vessel" - a ship that shuttles cargo containers from big ports to smaller ones - about five miles from the Jebel Ali Port. The fire, and the damage caused to the tanker, Kashmir, was captured on camera by a sightseeing plane which happened to be passing the scene. The tanker was carrying about 30,000 tonnes of oil condensate, a liquid used to make plastic, according to the Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit. It was heading from Iran to the United Arab Emirates. WAM, the Emirates state news agency, identified the container ship as the Sima Saba but its destination was not immediately known.As well as showing the extent of the blaze, the images showed substantial damage on the port, or left, side of the ship. Cameron Leslie, a pilot and director of flight operations at the Seawings air charter service in Dubai, said: "To me, it looked horrific. ... It must’ve been a pretty intense fire. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been on deck." Police helicopters and boats along with the Emirates Coast Guard and the port’s emergency response division assisted in the rescue efforts, officials said. Authorities said that two of the tank's crew were rescued from the water after jumping overboard, but that no-one was believed to have died. No immediate information was available on if an oil slick had been formed as a result of the fire, or how and why the accident took place. Jebel Ali Port, near where the incident took place, is located on the southwestern end of Dubai and is the biggest of two major ports in the city.