A Bulgarian oil tanker burst
into flames just outside the Black Sea port of Constanta
on Monday after an explosion, killing one of its crew of 34. Rescuers said six people, including the captain, remained trapped on the 75,000-ton capacity Mesta, which was billowing smoke as the blaze spread. Another was unaccounted for but the remaining 27 crew, had been picked up by rescue tug boats.
"The fire is spreading and the danger of another explosion is very great," Vicentiu Tomita
, captain of one of the rescue vessels, told Romania
's Pro-TV. Other ships were immediately evacuated from the area around the Mesta, which had been anchored 1.5 km (one mile) outside the port for the past 10 days and was carrying no cargo, he said.
Witnesses said a column of dense brown smoke was rising from the tanker, whose bow was pointing up out of the water as four tug boats with fire-fighting gear drew alongside. No flames were visible from the shore and the water around the ship was clear. A source at the Maritime Shipping Administration
in the Bulgarian port
of Varna said the Mesta, which was built in 1974, had been waiting to dock in Constanta for repairs. - (Reuters)