At least one person died yesterday after an oil tanker caught fire off Hong Kong, police said, sending a huge cloud of dark smoke billowing into the air.
A total of 21 people have been rescued after those on the vessel either fell or jumped into the sea, a police spokesperson said, but it was not clear if more people were still missing.
A number of the victims had suffered burns, they said.
A picture posted by the Hong Kong Police Force showed the tanker listing sharply with large plumes of black smoke coming from its middle and flames still burning on the deck.
Police said that they received a report of an oil tanker exploding and catching fire in waters south of outlying Lamma Island.
“I heard several banging and rumbling sounds, like someone with big hands knocking my glass door,” a resident of Lamma Island’s Mo Tat New Village, who gave his name as Shu, told reporters, adding that a smaller banging sound followed about 10 seconds later.
Photographs on the Web site of the Apple Daily showed an orange blaze on the ship, which was also belching out heavy smoke.
The name on the front of the tanker was Aulac Fortune, which the Hong Kong Marine Department’s tracker Web site showed as having arrived at the South Lamma anchorage at 2:58am yesterday.
MarineTraffic.com listed the tanker as registered in Vietnam and leaving the southern Chinese industrial city of Dongguan on Monday.
Authorities have dispatched marine police vessels, fireboats and a helicopter in an ongoing rescue operation, the South China Morning Post reported.
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