The cause of a raging fire on a luxury boat in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal which claimed the lives of at least two people, and left one injured and another missing, is still under intense investigation by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA, says the agency in a statement.
According to SAMSA, the fire onboard the luxury houseboat, Shayamanzi on Lake Jozini in the Northern KwaZulu-Natal broke out on Sunday (10 October 2021) while the vessel was on a two night cruise with four (4) crew and five (5) passengers believed to be of German nationality.
“The fire claimed the lives of two (2) people (one crew member and one passenger) and one (1) crew member is still missing. The search and rescue operation for the missing crew member is still underway, ” said SAMSA in a statement on Monday afternoon.
The agency added that it was “….believed that the vessel caught fire as it was passing Crocodile Bay when one of the deck hands noticed smoke coming out of the engine compartment, upon investigation it was discovered that one of the engines was on fire.
“There were also very strong winds blowing at the time creating a choppy sea. The crew and one of the passengers tried to fight the fire but all attempts failed and the fire spread rapidly within the compartment and to the upper deck, forcing the crew and passengers to abandon ship. The investigation is ongoing.”
SAMSA said the agency had conveyed condolences to the families of the deceased and would “endeavour to complete the investigations as soon as possible.”
Quick action and a well coordinated response by the South African Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) saw about 16 crewmen of a Taiwanese vessel rescued successfully from the stricken vessel off the Indian Ocean on Tuesday morning.
The MRCC also confirmed that the vessel that first experienced difficulties sailing had soon caught fire and was slowly sinking, some 1100 nautical miles south east of Durban.
The dramatic rescue of sailors off the vessel, the Teng Ming Yang#268, according to the MRCC, ensued from about 6.45am (South African Time) after the centre picked up a distress signal from the vessel indicating a need for assistance.
“At 06h45 local time MRCC Cape Town was alerted via the COSPAS SARSAT system (EPIRB detection) of the Taiwanese fishing vessel Teng Ming Yang #268 possibly needing assistance.
“The distress position as per the detection placed the vessel more than 1100 kilometres South East of Durban within the South African Search and Rescue region. MRCC Cape Town Duty Team immediately contacted the Taipei Rescue Coordination Centre to obtain additional details. The satellite AIS system was used to identify any vessels near the casualty position that may be called upon to assist.
“Taipei RCC stated that the vessel had reported a fire onboard and the 16 crew were going to abandon the vessel to life rafts. A MAYDAY relay broadcast was issued by Telkom Maritime Radio for vessels in the area to assist.
“The vessel Mearsk Lanco (approximately 500 kilometres away) immediately responded to the MAYDAY broadcast but was thanked for the response and stood down by the MRCC as a sister vessel to the Teng Ming Yang #268 was already diverting and a second vessel was also on route.
“Constant monitoring of the AIS system indicated that the sister vessel arrived in the area just after 0900 local time. This was confirmed by Taipei RCC minutes later when they reported that Teng Ming Yang #888 reported that it had rescued the 16 crew from the life raft. The vessel was reportedly still burning and sinking slowly. A Navigational warning has been issued.
“SAR systems and RCC cooperation has yet again proven its value,” said the centre in a statement.
Investigations into the cause of the fire that broke out on board a Liberian cargo vessel, the APL Austria, while sailing off the Indian Ocean along South Africa a few weeks ago continue in Port Elizabeth, with authorities indicating that it may be a while before they find answers.
According to the Captain Daron Burgess, a Principal Officer at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) southern region office in Port Elizabeth, the suspected cause of the fire currently is possibly a chemical known as a “calcium hypochlorite” that was found stowed under deck in No.4 cargo hold.
Wikipedia describes calcium hypochlorite as a chemical “commonly used to sanitize public swimming pools and disinfect drinking water. Calcium hypochlorite is also used in kitchens to disinfect surfaces and equipment. Other common uses include bathroom cleansers, household disinfectant sprays, algaecides, herbicides, and laundry detergents.”
Apparently according to Capt. Burgess, the presence of the chemical on board the vessel was somewhat mysterious as the vessel’s crew was “unaware of it as it was not declared as such.” Capt. Burgess stressed in statement on Tuesday however that: “The final report by fire experts has not been released yet and so we cannot confirm the cause.”
The APL Austria – a 72 000 ton, 280m wide cargo vessel – had been some 30 nautical miles south west of Jeffreys Bay – about 50-70 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth – when it reported a fire on board at about 5pm on Sunday, 12 February 2017. Shortly thereafter with rescue operations scrambled, it was then redirected overnight back to Port Elizabeth and eventually to its current docking location at the port of Ngqurha following to which its crew was evacuated while firefighters battled the blaze
On Tuesday this week, reporting on the continuing mop up operation on board the vessel Capt. Burgess said: “All damaged containers have been discharged from the vessel and the No.4 cargo hold is now empty and being mopped up. All empty CO2 cylinders (45kg x 444) have been replenished and placed back on board. ”
He said high pressure hose cleaning began on Tuesday and was expected to be completed on Wednesday afternoon after which investigators hoped to have a full view of the damage to the vessel.
According to Capt. Burgess repairs to damage caused by the fire on board the vessel was unlikely to be conducted at the Ngqurha port. “The vessel has had SA repair companies attend to inspect damage and to give quotes for seen damage to ship and hatch covers.” He said it was likely the vessel might set sail again to elsewhere sometime next week.
The MFV “Verano”, a fishing trawler berthed at quay 703 at the port of Cape Town and which has been on fire since Wednesday last week, is reported to have cooled down substantially, and that even though she is listing to starboard, she remains in a stable condition.
Shortly after the fire broke out, five crew members on board were safely evacuated with no injury or loss of life and a Primary Joint Operations Centre involving the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was established with a mobile incident command on site on a 24 hour basis.
Heavy plumes of smoke, believed to be coming from burning plastic packaging material and polystyrene stored in a fish hold within the vessel, covered the area as firefighters from the Cape Town Firefighting Department joined forces with tugs to try and extinguish the blaze.
A fishing vessel adjacent to the burning vessel had to be shifted to another area in the port and the Transnet temporarily shut down the container terminal operations.
The following day, Thursday the fire at the front of the vessel as well as the accommodation section had been contained but remained burning aft of the vessel due to the plastic packaging material onboard.
Plans were discussed to debunker the fuel onboard.
On Friday the fire was still emanating in number 2 fish hold and in the paint store located in the forecastle. This prompted plans to pump water out from the hull and open hatches to apply high expansion foam into the vessel.
Over the weekend the fire situation continued to be at a moderate condition and to secure the area, an oil boom was deployed around the vessel to prevent any pollution that could occur. By this time, Transnet Port Terminals Container Terminal was back to full operational.
On Monday this week the joint operations team reported further improvement in the situation with the vessel now substantially cooled down. It reported the vessel as still listing to starboard but in a stable condition.
Early Tuesday smoke still bellowed from the number one fish hold while boundary cooling continued on either side of the vessel.
In a statement during the day, it was announced that an assessment has been undertaken by a TNPA appointed Marine Surveyor and P&I surveyor while the vessel owners had also appointed Salvors, to help extinguish the fire, de-water and make the vessel safe.
Meanwhile, records indicate that the MFV “Verano”, a Russia registered but South Korean owned vessel, has been stationed at the port of Cape Town since October 2013 after it had reported for cargo discharge, thereafter berthed for repairs before uplifting bunkers after which it docked at quay 703 – its current position.
SAMSA is maintaining a close eye on the process and will conduct an investigation when once it is safe to do so.
Report Updated: 3.20pm Thursday.
Cape Town: 02 November 2016
Efforts by firefighters to put out a fire engulfing a Russia flag bearing vessel docked at the Cape Town harbour continued into late afternoon on Wednesday.
According to the website, sea-web.com; the 41 year old vessel, known as a ‘factory stern trawler’ type, is owned and operated by Insung Corporation of South Korea.
The cause of the fire which broke out on the vessel named Verano, at about noon on Wednesday, was still unknown, according to the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Samsa’s Western Region acting Regional Manager, Captain Gustav Louw confirmed
that a surveyor had been dispatched to do some preliminary inspection soon after the fire broke out on the vessel.
Full investigation would take place only after the fire was put out.
He also confirmed that crew of the vessel had successful escaped the fire on the vessel.
At 17h00 the Cape Town Fire Department and TNPA tugs were still on the scene trying to extinguished the fire.