At least 14 sailors dead after fire engulfs two vessels off Crimea

Clay Curtis
January 22, 2019

The fire broke out on Monday off Russia's territorial waters.

"A search-and-rescue operation is continuing", he added. One of them, a liquefied natural gas carrier, has exploded. The other one, the Maestro, had a crew of 15 (seven Turkish nationals, seven Indian citizens, and an intern from Libya).

"Twelve were rescued, 11 bodies were discovered, nine went missing", Rosmorrechflot told Sputnik, specifying that a total of 32 people were on board the two tankers.

The agency earlier said that "no signal from either one of the two captains" had been received.

Clouds of black smoke can been seen billowing from one of the ships has a huge fire burns through the deck.

The vessels were sailing under the Tanzania flag.

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The fire broke out when one vessel was transferring fuel to another, Russian maritime agency spokesman Alexei Kravchenko said, adding that this then forced several crew members to jump overboard.

Reports state 12 people have so far been rescued.

The accident struck close to the Kerch Strait, which has become a new flashpoint in tension between Russian Federation and Ukraine. It is an important economic lifeline for Ukraine that allows ships leaving the port city of Mariupol to access the Black Sea.

It's also the closest point of access for Russian Federation to Crimea, a peninsula Moscow annexed in 2014.

Three vessels from Kiev were seized in a major incident past year, reigniting fears of open conflict in the Black Sea.

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