KOLKATA: A Kolkata Port-bound container ship floating from Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh with 22 sailors on board caught fire off the coast of Haldia in the Bay of Bengal in the wee hours of Thursday.
All the 22 sailors aboard MV SSL Kolkata were rescued by the Coast Guard which dispatched a ship from Haldia and a Dornier aircraft from Kolkata soon after fire erupted in the vessel due to explosion in one of the containers at around 12.05 am on Thursday.
Sources revealed that the rough sea conditions spread the fire rapidly. By 8 am, some 60 of the 464 containers in the vessel were ablaze. The captain ordered to abandon the ship after 70% of the ship was ablaze by 8.30 am. Beside Coast Guard deploying its ship Rajkiran, Vishakhapatnam Naval base dispatched a Sea King helicopter and a Dornier aircraft for the rescue mission.
"All 22 sailors including the captain have been rescued," said Coast Guard Commander (North East) Inspector General K S Sheoran, who is overseeing the rescue mission.
However, the abandoned ship is adrift and is leading to speculations of oil spill in the Bay of Bengal. Authorities of Kolkata, Haldia and Dhamra ports have come together to fight the oil spill. "We are doing our best to prevent oil spill," Kolkata Port Trust chairman Vinit Kumar said.