Explosion Aboard South Korean Tanker Kills Five, Others Still missing

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January 15, 2012

An explosion tore through a South Korean tanker on Sunday morning killing five crew members and leaving 6 others missing.   The unexplained explosion occurred off the coast of Incheon located on the western shore of South Korea after the vessel unloaded a cargo of oil products.  Five people aboard the ship were rescued.

Photos of the tanker, the 4191-ton Doola No. 3, show that the vessel was nearly torn in half by the explosion and was left partially submerged.  The explosion took place about three miles north of Jawol Island near Incheon at around 8:05 a.m. local time, the Coast Guard said.

The Doola No. 3, which usually carries refined petroleum products and chemicals, was carrying 80 tons of Bunker-C oil and 40 tons of diesel oil for fuel when it exploded, according to a coast guard statement.

“The vessel usually transports diesel, but this time it carried gasoline. We are now examining whether it had any relation to the explosion,” an official from Doola Shipping, the owner of the vessel, said in a statement that was obtained by Yonhap news agency.

Yonhap has also reported that the ship’s captain said the explosion may have been caused by static electricity that ignited gasoline vapors from an onboard tank where 11 crew members were working before the blast.

A total of 11 Korean and 5 Myanmarese were aboard the Doola No. 3, the Coast Guard said.

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