Sea Elegance still burning

Oct 11, 2003
Author: P&S

At 18.30 today (Saturday 11 October 2003) more than 12 hours after the drama began, the 16,511-dwt container ship Sea Elegance was still burning fiercely about 5 miles from the port of Durban.

The ship was at anchor in the Durban outer anchorage waiting to enter port and work her cargo of 650 containers after a voyage from Singapore when the fire broke out. Early reports say the fire began when the shipís boiler exploded but this hasnít been confirmed.

Thirteen members of the crew have remained on board to assist with fighting the fire which is so far confined to the accommodation block and the shipís stern. Ten others have been lifted ashore and one remains missing.

Rescue operations involve several organisations including the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the National Ports Authority whose tugs are on duty pumping water onto the burning ship, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) from Station 5, Durban Metro Fire Department, Smit Salvage personnel and tugs based in Durban (the tug Pentow Service) and the SA Police Water Wing, all acting under the co-ordination of the National Ports Authority Port Control.

Fire fighting personnel are on board Sea Elegance and several tugs remain on duty.

The flames and thick smoke are clearly visible from the shore all along the Durban beachfront including as far away as the Bluff from where this report is compiled.

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