Kolkata: The Indian Coast Guard on Thursday rescued all 22 crew members of a merchant container vessel after a devastating fire broke out in the ship in the Bay of Bengal, a senior coast guard official said here.
The container ship, MV SSL Kolkata, that was on its way to the city with 464 containers on board, caught fire on Wednesday night, the officer said.
"Our Coast Guard ship arrived in the area in the morning. The captain decided to save the crew and abandon the ship. On his request, we have successfully picked up all the 22 survivors. As of now, all 22 people are being brought to Haldia in the coast guard ship," Coast Guard Commander (NE) Inspector General K.S. Sheoran said here.
"The sea was very bad at the accident site. There were high waves and the wind was very strong. Almost 60-70 percent of the ship was on fire by that time," he said.
The reason of the fire is still not confirmed.
According to the Coast Guard, the owners of the ship, Shreyas Shipping & Logistics have hired tugboats from the nearby ports that would work on salvage operation of the remaining goods, unaffected in the blaze.
"The owner of the ship has hired big tugboats from Haldia port and Dhamra port in Odisha. They have also engaged salvage companies from Singapore. The salvage operations will start after sometime. The first priority was to save the captain and the crew, which the coast guard has done successfully," the officer added.
The fire on board the merchant vessel was of such magnitude that a Seaking 42C helicopter and a Dornier aircraft from Vizag had to be launched on Thursday morning at first day light, in coordination with the coast guard, to assist in search and rescue.
However, the two aeroplanes were rooted back to Vizag after receiving a message that search and rescue operations would be over by the time the two aircraft reached overhead.
According to the monitoring team of the Haldia dock, the ship is likely to be grounded.