Crew have abandoned the 75,590 tonne German-flagged containership MSC Flaminia following an explosion in a cargo hold.
The incident may again raise concerns regarding the accuracy of container manifests. A similar fire occurred in 2006 aboard the Hyundai Fortune, possibly due to calcium hypochlorite, with secondary explosions from fireworks carried aboard.
Attention may also be paid to the possibility of contaminated gases in reefer units, which caused problems in 2011.
At 10:07 on Sunday Falmouth Coastguard received the relayed mayday broadcast from the German registered MSC Flaminia reporting that the crew on board had abandoned the vessel.
Falmouth Coastguard broadcast an alert to all vessels in the area and the nearest vessel which could provide assistance was the oil tanker DS Crown which immediately changed course to intercept the MSC Flaminia. Six other merchant vessels also proceeded to the location to help with the search and rescue operation but were more than six hours from the location. Rescue helicopters do not have the endurance required to attend an incident of this nature because the vessel is approximately 1,000 miles from land mid way between the UK and Canada.
John Green, Apostleship of the Sea Director of Development says “This tragedy is a reminder of the dangers seafarers face each day to bring us various goods we rely on. Like so many seafarers, the crew on the Flaminia lived a very hard life. But they go to sea because it’s the only way they can provide for their families.”
DS Crown arrived on scene to confirm that the MSC Flaminia was still burning and recovered 24 people from a lifeboat and a liferaft. Four crew had suffered injuries. The injured crew have been transferred to the vessel MSC Stella which will take them to the Azores. One crew member is missing.
The MSC Flaminia is a large container vessel of 75,590 gross tonnage and had 25 people on board. Crew of the MSC Flaminia include German, Polish and Filipino nationals. Weather conditions on scene were winds force 3-4 with a one metre swell.