Apriadi Gunawan, Medan, North Sumatra – The authorities have confirmed that at least seven crew members were killed in a fire on board the crude oil tanker Jag Leela at Belawan Port in Medan, North Sumatra, on Monday morning.
A search and rescue team recovered on Tuesday the bodies of seven crew members in several different parts of the ship, including on the deck.
Indra, a member of the SAR team deployed to the scene, said the team had only managed to identify one of the recovered bodies."Of the seven bodies we've found, only one has been immediately identified as Soewondo. The rest have been severely burned," Indra told The Jakarta Post, adding that the victims were presumably trapped inside the ship during the fire.
The SAR team has also been spraying water onto the ship to ensure the safety of the evacuation operation.
North Sumatra Police spokesperson, Adj. Sr. Comr. MP Nainggolan, said the bodies of the seven victims had been transferred to the Bhayangkara Police Hospital in the city for identification. "The number of casualties may still increase as the search operation is still under way."
Bhayangkara Police Hospital deputy head, Adj. Sr. Comr. Zulhairi, said the hospital had identified another body, without providing any further details.
The hospital set up an emergency post to gather data on the victims from their relatives to help them identify the remaining bodies.
"Those who fear that they might have lost a family member in the fire can submit their fingerprints, ID cards or diplomas [to the emergency post]," said Zulhairi.
Previously, authorities confirmed 22 crew members were injured while several others were trapped in the oil tanker. The injured victims were immediately rushed to nearby hospitals.
Witnesses said an explosion occurred on Monday morning when the ship was about to dock at the Waruna Shipyard in the port. A column of thick smoke began rising from the oil tanker at 8:30 a.m.
Local authorities struggled to put out the resulting flames until 3 p.m. as the remaining oil stored in the ship's hold had caught fire.
The police are still investigating the cause of the blaze. (rfa)