UPDATE (7/27/12): Bunga Alpinia Death Toll Rises to Three
Original (7/26/12): An explosion and fire, reportedly the result of a lightning strike, engulfed the Malaysian International Shipping Company (MISC)-owned, 38,000 DWT IMO II chemical/palm oil tanker, Bunga Alpinia, while inport Labuan, Malaysia. The fire broke out at approximately 2.30am (local time) while the vessel was loading methanol at the PETRONAS Chemicals Methanol Sdn Bhd terminal in Labuan.
MISC reports that the ship had 29 crew members, made up of 23 Malaysians and 6 Filipinos. MISC has confirmed that one crewmember has been killed and another 4 are still missing.
Fires raged throughout the night as offshore supply vessels doused the fires with their water cannons.
Sources from the Maritime Response Coordination Centre (MRCC) told a local newspaper that as of 11am local time, rescue personnel were still trying to put out the blaze on the tanker. The MRRC spokesman also noted their main concern now is to prevent the tanker from hitting the nearby methanol silo, located a mere 150 meters from the now adrift, and burning vessel.
Authorities fear that if the flames from the tanker ignite the methanol silo, it could result in massive destruction of the surrounding area.
“That is our biggest fear at the concern at the moment. An outcome like that would be catastrophic, to say the least,” said the source. As a precautionary measure, PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) has shut down its 660,000 tonne/year methanol (PML) 1 unit.
Additional images via perkapalanmalaysia.com