One Missing After Offshore Research Vessel Catches Fire Off Malaysia

geo technical research vessel fire
MV Geo Technical on fire in the South China Sea off Malaysia, April 17, 2018.

One person is missing after a fire broke out aboard an offshore oil and gas research vessel in the South China Sea off the coast of Malaysia, officials said Tuesday.

The fire aboard the MV Geo Technical is reported to have started at about 3:15 a.m. local time on Tuesday as the vessel was operating approximately 27 kilometers off the coast of Baram, Malaysia, Malaysian state oil firm Petronas has confirmed.

The vessel, owned by Kuala Lumpur-based company, was carrying out operations on behalf of Petronas at the time of the incident.

The fire forced all crew to abandon ship into the water, the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency said.

Of the 38 rescued crew members, two were taken to a hospital in Miri with burn injuries.

The fire is believed to have started in the ship’s engine room and quickly spread to other parts of the vessel. Photos and videos posted online show the vessel engulfed in flames. The footage shows the surface water surrounding the vessel on fire, indicating the presence of oil. 

The fire was put out about 8 a.m local with the help of two other vessels, according to the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency. The agency said there remains residual oil in the water.

Petronas said in its statement that the fire has been extinguished and the vessel is being monitored while search and rescue efforts for the missing person are being conducted.

“PETRONAS is working closely with Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and other relevant authorities on the search and rescue efforts, and is extending its full support to those affected by the incident,” the company said.

The MV Geos Technical was built in 2009 and is flagged in Malaysia.