3rd LD Writethru: 1 killed, 7 injured, 2 missing in oil tanker blaze off Hong Kong's Lamma Island

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HONG KONG, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- One person was killed, seven injured and two missing as an oil tanker exploded and caught fire Tuesday off Hong Kong's Lamma Island.

The accident occurred at around 11:29 a.m. local time (0329 GMT) when crew members on the 140-meter-long oil tanker were trying to connect pipes with an oil barge to refuel the ship south off Lamma Island, said Yiu Men Yeung, division commander for marine and diving of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government's Fire Services Department (FSD).

There were 25 crew members on the oil tanker and four workers on the barge.

Among the oil tanker crew members, one man was found dead at the scene, 22 were rescued from the sea, while two remained missing, according to Wong Wai Hong, deputy district commander of the Marine Port District of the Hong Kong Police Force.

A total of seven people were injured in the accident, including one worker on the barge. Among the injured crew members, one was seriously burned.

The fire, upgraded to No. 3 alarm at 1:33 p.m. local time (0533 GMT), was largely put out at around 4:30 p.m. local time (0830 GMT).

The FSD and the police deployed several vessels, 20 fire engines, 14 ambulances, four fire boat monitors and a total of 140 emergency crews to fight the blaze and rescue the victims.

The Government Flying Service (GFS) also deployed three helicopters with a total of 13 crew members to the scene to search for the missing.

Pictures released by the GFS showed a huge hole on the deck of the burning ship.

Danny Kwok, owner of a speedboat leasing business on the island, told Xinhua after returning from near the scene that the ship was tilted and the sea area around had been blockaded.

The oil tanker, registered in Vietnam, was on its way from China's Dongguan to Thailand when it stopped in waters of the HKSAR for refuelling.

All the crew members are Vietnamese. The Hong Kong police has informed the Consulate General of Vietnam in Hong Kong of the incident.

The HKSAR government's Marine Department said its oil spill control vessel has been deployed to the scene on standby, but no spill was spotted since the tanker was not carrying oil cargo when the accident happened. Enditem

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