An explosion that engulfed two tankers anchored in the black sea near the Kerch Strait in flames has claimed the lives of 14 crew members with many more listed as missing.
The two Tanzania-flagged LPG tankers, Candy and Maestro, were alongside each other undertaking a ship-to-ship fuel transfer of liquefied natural gas in the Black Sea off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula when the explosion took place at 18:00 Moscow time on January 21.
Candy, which is also registered with the name Venice, is a 1992-built, 3693 GT LPG tanker whereas Maestro is a 1990-built, 4086 LPG tanker. Following the explosion, flames quickly spread to both vessels forcing desperate crew members to jump into the water to escape the blaze.
An announcement made by the press service of Russia’s Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport confirmed that of the 31 crew members onboard the two tankers, 16 were Turkish and 15 were Indian citizens. At the time of writing, 12 crew members had been successfully rescued, 14 had lost their lives and 5 remained missing.
According to local media reports, rescuers have abandoned attempts to douse the flames and the vessels will be left to burn out.
Russian news service TASS has reported rescuers as saying the two Tanzania registered ships were ‘illegally anchored’ and a criminal investigation has been launched into the deaths.