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1 Dead, Others Missing After Chemical Tanker Explosion

Published Jul 26, 2012 1:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

A chemical tanker off the Labuan island coast suffered from an onboard fire earlier today. The blaze impacted operations at a delivery plant at the giant methanol production facility owned by Petronas on the island. Officials are blaming a lightning strike as the cause of the fire.

The massive fire blew out the internal piping of the vessel as a fireboat attempted to drown the flames. The Bunga Alpinia was loaded with methanol at the time of the incident; fortunately, the fire has now been contained. Officials claim that the vessel is 80 percent destroyed.

Petronas Chemicals said in an official statement that operations at the smaller of the two methanol delivery terminals at the Labuan facility were impacted minimally – limited to Plant 1 deliveries only. It has a capacity to produce 700,000 tons of methanol annually.

Photo (thumb): Bunga Kantan 1, the Alpinia's sister ship

MISC - Bunga Alpinia Update
26 Jul 2012 | MISC Berhad

The Bunga Alpinia incident this morning had unfortunately resulted in a fatality whilst four other MISC crew members are still missing. The identity of the deceased is yet to be confirmed.

Currently, efforts are being made to put out the fire onboard the vessel. The vessel was loading methanol at the PETRONAS Chemicals Methanol Sdn Bhd terminal in Labuan at the time of the incident.

The respective families and next of kin of the crew members have been informed and a Hotline has been set up for affected family members wishing to obtain more information.

The 24 crew members who are ashore are safe and unharmed.

Further updates will be provided as and when necessary.

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The initial report from MISC Berhad follows:

MISC Berhad (MISC) has confirmed that a fire broke out onboard its 38,000 DWT IMO II chemical/palm oil tanker, Bunga Alpinia at approximately 2.30am (local time) this morning. The vessel was alongside the PETRONAS Chemicals Methanol Sdn Bhd terminal in Labuan when the incident took place.

The ship has 29 crew members, of which 23 are Malaysians and 6 Filipinos. At present, 24 have been safely brought ashore whilst 5 are still unaccounted for.

No further details of the incident are available at this point in time. All authorities have been notified accordingly and we are working closely to render the necessary assistance.