Kerch Strait tragedy: more than 20 people die in ship fire

Kerch Strait tragedy: more than 20 people die in ship fire

A search operation is underway after fire broke out on board two Tanzania-flagged tankers in the Kerch Strait, the press service of the Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport said.

"Search continues. According to latest reports, 10 people remain missing, 10 bodies were recovered, and 12 people were rescued. The fire on ships continues blazing. It will not be extinguished until all the gas burns out," a spokesman for the Novorossiysk maritime rescue center said.

He added that the rescued sailors have not yet been brought to the shore because of the bad weather conditions.

"As of 6am, the status of the operation has been reclassified to search from rescue because there is no hope to find survivors," TASS cited a spokesperson as saying.

"At 5:00 am the Merkury tow boat took onboard the rescued sailors and the bodies of those killed, who have been removed from the water, and soon they will be taken to Kerch," the spokesman said. Stormy weather impeded this effort at night.

On Monday evening a fire broke out onboard two vessels near the Kerch Strait off Russia’s territorial waters. According to preliminary data, the incident presumably occurred when fuel was being pumped from one ship to the other.

One of the vessels, the Candy, had a crew of 17, including nine Turkish citizens and eight Indian nationals. The other one, the Maestro, had a crew of 15 (seven Turkish nationals, seven Indian citizens, and an intern from Libya) - a total of 31 people onboard the two vessels.

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