Fire Forces Abandonment of South Korean Trawler

Joseph Keefe
Monday, April 21, 2014

A fire on board a South Korean trawler fishing off the coast of Sierra Leone forced the crew to abandon ship, fleeing onto boats that came to their rescue, its captain told Reuters on Monday.

The fire on the 70-foot (21-metre) Osito 89 broke out in the engine room at 0400 GMT on Sunday about five nautical miles off the town of Kent, south of the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown.

Thick smoke billowed from the vessel on Monday and flames rose from the hull, according to a Reuters witness.

"The fire became wild as it spread into the captain's bridge so I had no alternative but to send an SOS to our company's office," Captain Seak Kim Che said.

Motor boats arrived on the scene and rescued the crew, the captain said. There were no casualties.

Two South Koreans, two Chinese and two Indonesian fishermen were rescued, while the 18 Sierra Leonean fishermen who also worked on the ship were not on board at the time, he said.

The South Korean-flagged ship is owned by Chung Gang, a private fishing company owned by citizens in both South Korea and Sierra Leone, Captain Seak said.

Fishing is a major industry in Sierra Leone.


Reporting by Christo Johnson

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