MOSCOW – At least 10 people died on Monday in a fire aboard two Tanzanian-flagged ships in the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, according to Russian authorities.
“At this time, we know that there are 10 dead and another 14 were rescued. We don’t know the fate of seven other sailors,” said Russia’s Federal Maritime and River Transportation Agency in a statement.
The injured, who jumped overboard into frigid waters to save themselves, suffered varying degrees of burns and symptoms of hypothermia, medical sources cited by local media said.
According to preliminary information, the fire broke out due to the failure of a fuel pump being used to transfer fuel between the two vessels in violation of security regulations governing such maneuvers.
The ships – the Candy and the Maestro, which were transporting liquefied natural gas – were anchored in international waters when the incident occurred.
The fire broke out on board one of the vessels and quickly spread to the other one, forcing the crewmembers to hastily abandon them both.
According to the source, the two ships had a total of 31 crewmembers of Turkish and Indian nationality on board, figures that were confirmed by the embassies of those two nations in Russia.
In all, seven Russian vessels participated in rescue efforts in waters between the Crimean Peninsula and continental Russia.