MV SSL Kolkata, a container ship with 464 containers onboard that was making its way to the city of Kolkata, caught fire yesterday. However, none of the 22-member crew were hurt as the captain made a call to abandon ship, and the Indian Coast Guard arrived in quick time to help bring them ashore. They were taken to Haldia port, where they will receive the necessary medical attention, a senior coast guard official acknowledged. Although the reason for the fire was not known, sea conditions were rough enough to complicate rescue operations that got underway on Thursday morning. Witnesses say that at the time that the rescue was being effected, close to 70% of the vessel and the containers on board had caught on fire.
Shreyas Shipping and Logistics, owners of the MV SSL Kolkata, had hired tugboats from ports in Odisha to help in the recovery of containers that were intact and had not been damaged by the blaze. The company had even hired a company from Singapore to assist with salvage of the vessel, but this was not expected to have started immediately, and certainly not before the crew were safely accounted for following their rescue being the number one priority.
Although no initial estimates regarding the cost of damages have since been reported, the fire that engulfed the container ship was large enough to merit immediate search and rescue efforts from the Indian Coast Guard. A Dornier aircraft and a Sea King 42C helicopter were dispatched to the scene from a base in Vishakapatnam, only to be recalled when it was determined that the other measures put into effect would have completed their efforts in rescuing the crew members by the time these aircraft were able to reach their destination.