MAERSK Line says “comprehensive search efforts” have failed to find four crew members missing from the Maersk Honam, a box ship that caught fire in the Arabian Sea earlier in the week.
“While search operation continues the hope of finding our missing colleagues is fading,” said Søren Toft, chief operating officer of A.P. Moller – Maersk.
“We are in contact with their families and they know that tragically, the time passed decreases the likelihood of finding their loved ones alive. Our thoughts and prayers go to them.”
The nationalities of the four missing men are two Filipinos, one South African and one Indian.
Twenty three crew members were evacuated by the vessel ALS Ceres after the fire broke out, while one man was reported dead due to fire injuries.
Furthermore, two crew members, one Thai and one Filipino, were said to have been “in urgent need of medical care”.
They were evacuated by an Indian navy vessel and handed over to the Indian coast guard and it is understood they are now receiving treatment.
The remaining 19 crew on board ALS Ceres are en route to Cochin, South West India, where Maersk says medical professionals and crisis psychologists have been arranged.
“We are doing our outmost to care for and closely follow the conditions of all evacuated colleagues. Also, we have an ongoing contact with their closest relatives,” Mr Toft said.
Maersk Honam was en route towards Suez from Singapore when a serious fire was reported in a cargo hold.
After unsuccessfully trying to put out the blaze, the crew sent out a distress signal and a total of 23 crew members were reported evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres.
Specialist firefighters have been despatched to the area which is 900nm southeast of Salalah, Oman.
The vessel is carrying 7860 containers, corresponding to 12,416 TEU.
Maersk says the cause of the fire is unknown but it will “investigate the matter thoroughly in cooperation with all relevant authorities”.
Maersk Honam was built in 2017, has a nominal capacity of 15262 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), and is flagged in Singapore.