Oil tanker catches fire off Malaysian coast, three crew missing

By Heather Chen, Irene Nasser and Teele Rebane, CNN

CNN  —  Search efforts are underway for three missing crew members after a Gabon-registered oil tanker caught fire off the coast of southern Malaysia, Malaysian maritime authorities said in a statement.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said it had received an alert at 4pm local time Monday of a tanker on fire, about 37.5 nautical miles northeast of the coastal region of Tanjung Sedili in the state of Johor.

The tanker was sailing from China to Singapore with 28 crew members when it caught fire, MMEA said.

A naval patrol boat was dispatched to the scene to rescue those on board, MMEA added. “Fortunately, 23 crew members were rescued by two ships in the vicinity,” MMEA director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria said.

“While we managed to rescue two crew members, three are still missing,” he added.

“Ongoing operations will include investigations to establish if the trio abandoned the tanker and jumped into sea, or were trapped.”

Maritime authorities in neighboring Singapore said they were broadcasting alerts to vessels in the vicinity to look out for the three missing crew. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore identified the tanker as the MT Pablo.

Videos showed the tanker on fire, with large plumes of black smoke rising into the air. Other ships were spotted nearby.

It is currently unclear if there has been any widespread environmental impact.

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