Originally published on December 30, 2013
A 55,000-ton cargo ship on a test run collided with a tanker ship carrying flammable chemicals in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, sparking a fire that was only contained by mid-morning Monday.
The collision occurred in waters around 9.2 nautical miles off the coast of the South Korean shipbuilding center and port of Busan.
South Korea rescue personnel were able to rescue all 91 crew members from both vessels and reports say all crew members are alive, with only minor injuries reported.
The cargo ship, named the "Gravity Highway" was conducting a test-run when it collided with the "Maritime Maisie" tanker, which was carrying almost 30,000 tons of flammable chemicals, including paraxylene, a highly flammable substance used in the manufacture of polyester and acrylonitrile, which acts as a monomer in the production of plastics.
Reports say some 4000 tons of chemicals were lost to the fire, but fortunately, no leaks into the ocean were found. The stricken ship stayed afloat and was later towed back to the port of Busan.
South Korean newspapers reported that 16 coast guard boats as well as Navy vessels and helicopters were called to duty to both rescue the crew members and extinguish the flames.
There are no indications at present as to why such a collision could occur in the waters just off the South Korean coast and authorities are investigating.
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