2019 seems to be fast becoming the year of maritime disasters.. 🙁 There have been several maritime disasters one after the other in the recent years, especially in 2019.. In the latest incident on the 25th of May, a fire broke out on board a container ship KMTC Hong Kong, at the Laem Chabang port in Thailand..
It has been reported that a fire erupted on the ship triggering a blast which left at least 25 workers suffering from smoke inhalation and other injuries, forcing officials to evacuate workers and temporarily close three piers..
Reports indicate that more than 130 people were taken to hospital, some complaining of irritation in the eyes and throat, others of a burning sensation on the skin..
The district around Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Chonburi province, located two hours south of capital Bangkok, has been declared a “danger zone”, said port director Yuthana Mokkhao.
Yuthana said people on the port were “affected by smoke inhalation and hit by small shrapnel from the containers“..
As per port director Yuthana Mokkao, initial checks showed the blaze broke out in a load of cargo containing the chemical calcium hypochlorite..
“We closed the pier where the fire broke out and two others that were affected by the fire. The fire at the port in the industrial Chonburi province, east of Bangkok, had now been contained and officials were looking for the cause,” he added..
“The situation is under control now … Forensic police will investigate the cause of the fire,” said Sivaporn Buapong, chief of Chonburi province’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department..
Calcium Hypochlorite is an Oxidising substance classified under IMCO Class 5.1.. It is classified by some MSDS as an oxidiser which may intensify fire, capable of causing severe skin burns and eye damage, very toxic to aquatic life and harmful if swallowed..
As per latest updates by Fleetmon, the fire is said to under control or extinguished with firefighters focusing efforts on chemical contamination at sea, on land and in the air.. A total of 143 people are said to have been injured by the release of poisonous stuff into the air caused by the explosion..
KMTC HongKong is 168.6 m long and was built in 1998 with a container capacity is 1585 TEU and at the time of arrival in Laem Chabang was said to have 676 containers on board on arrival of which 443 were offloaded with 35 more to go..
Reports suggest that among the containers destroyed or damaged by the explosion and fire, 5 tank containers were loaded with liquid paraffin, 13 containers were loaded with Calcium Hypochlorite were also present..
This incident is said to be the worst case of fire on a container ship berthed in Laem Chabang..
Incidents relating to Calcium Hypochlorite is not new and it has been linked a responsible agent for fires aboard many ships..
The TT Club recently reported that statistics indicate there is a major container cargo fire at sea roughly every 60 days..!!! As per the club, as the size of container ships increases, so does the potential risk and consequence of a large explosion or fire incident..
The TT Club has been campaigning for greater Container Safety with focus on Dangerous Goods first.. Due to the many incidents that has happened in 2019 alone, the Cargo Integrity campaign initiated by the international transport and logistics insurer, has gained renewed impetus..
As per TT Club, its records indicate that across the intermodal spectrum as a whole, 66% of incidents related to cargo damage can be attributed to poor practice in the overall packing process and that is not just in securing but also in cargo identification, misdeclaration, documentation and effective data transfer..
The calculated cost of these claims in the Marine Aviation & Transport (MAT) insurance sector is in excess of USD 500 million a year..
Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s Risk Management Director, who is leading the Cargo Integrity charge said, “We are endeavouring to focus all direct and indirect stakeholders on recognising and doing the right thing. One particularly critical aspect of this is the correct declaration and handling of dangerous goods (DG).”
Here are some images of the KMTC HongKong courtesy of Fleetmon..