January 15, 2012

Five killed in South Korean ship explosion (Updated)

A Coast Guard boat patrols near the wreckage of the freight ship Doola No. 3 in waters off the port city of Incheon, South Korea on Jan 15, 2012. - EPA

SEOUL (Reuters) - An explosion struck a cargo ship carrying petroleum in waters off South Korea's western port city of Incheon on Sunday, killing five people, the coast guard said. Six crew were missing.

A Korea Coast Guard spokesman said the explosion on the 4,191tonne freight ship, with 16 crewmen 11 Koreans and 5 Myanmarese on board, happened in waters north of Jawol Island near Incheon. Five people, including the captain, were rescued.

At least two of the dead crewmen were Myanmarese, the spokesman said. The coast guard was trying to identify the bodies of the other crew.

A TV footage showed the explosion tore the ship almost into two parts leaving it halfsubmerged. No oil leakage was reported.

The ship was heading south to return to Daesan, another port on the west coast, after unloading gasoline at the Incheon port.

The cause of the explosion was not known immediately but the Yonhap news agency quoted the captain of the illfated vessel as saying the blast had occurred while the crew was draining gasoline vapors from an oil tank on the deck to remove residues.

He said that static electricity may have ignited the gas, causing the explosion.

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