Tue, 26 Mar 2019

Clean-up operations are underway at the Durban harbour after a fire on a ship claimed six lives, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said on Friday.

"The clean-up operations are continuing at the ship repair jetty 2 in the Port of Durban, where a fire broke out on Thursday, aboard fishing trawler Tropical I."

A statement issued by TNPA said that the vessel was docked at the jetty for its bi-annual maintenance repairs when the blaze erupted in its accommodation area at around 14:00.

The repair work was being carried out by a private Mozambican ship repair contractor at the repair quay owned by TNPA.

WATCH: Six people missing after fishing vessel catches fire at Durban Harbour

By Friday the pumping of fuel and water from the vessel had been completed with the vessel moved back to an upright position.

"The safety of our working environment remains our first concern and we are extremely distressed that this incident has occurred," TNPA said.

The ports authority also sent its sympathies to the bereaved families.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the six foreign crew members who lost their lives during this tragic incident on our shores. An investigation is underway and we are cooperating fully with the relevant authorities."

5 Mozambicans, 1 Portuguese national

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said that the bodies of the crew were transported to a mortuary in Durban.

Five of the deceased were Mozambican nationals while a sixth crew member was of Portuguese origin.

"Twelve other crew members are being attended to and a Samsa team was scheduled to meet them for a statement at about lunchtime on Friday."

Rescue Care spokesperson Garrith Jamieson previously said paramedics arrived at the scene and found the Portnet fire department, Durban fire department, police and ambulance services there.

"A ship, believed to be a fishing vessel, was alight and firefighters worked quickly to contain the fire. Multiple workers were assessed by paramedics on the wharf side and three workers were transported to a nearby hospital by Rescue Care for further treatment," he said.

At the time of his arrival, the six were confirmed missing with authorities boarding the vessel to check for workers.

They assessed the people found on the vessel and only three people were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.

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