9 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos- Three Indians were killed while 10 others were rescued when a Liberian-flagged drilling ship working for French oil company, Total, exploded off Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Two persons were reported missing after the tragedy struck the ship, ITB Jacksonville, near Apapa port, about 17 nautical miles off the Lagos fairway bouy. The vessel had 15 sailors onboard.
Total Oil Company, for which the ship was operating in its field offshore Nigeria, said the accident was caused when a crane collapsed on the drilling ship.
Ten persons, all of them Indians, were rescued after the incident and taken to a hospital for emergency medical attention.
“All the rescued persons were Indians. They were taken to a search and rescue hospital in Apapa port in Lagos,” a spokesperson for the Nigerian Maritime Administration (NIMASA), Lami Tumaka, said yesterday.
Three bodies were later recovered but two are still missing. NIMASA is the body responsible for rescue operations on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
On the origin of the ship, Tumaka said the vessel was flying Liberian flag though the documents found on it said Panama, which made the origin difficult to ascertain.
Eyewitnesses said the ship’s engine exploded and the vessel went ablaze as it approached Lagos. The fire spread very fast but a search and rescue operation succeeded in rescuing some people, an eyewitness said. The accident occurred barely a day after another incident on an oil ship threw three workers off board with one person still missing.
NIMASA has also detained a vessel, M.T Green Dolphin for allegedly embarking on illegal bunkering on the nation’s waters.
Disclosing this yesterday in Lagos, Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, said that M.T Green Dolphin which was loaded with Associated Gas Oil (AGO) was detained after several failed attempts to board the ship was rebuffed by the crew.
Akpobolokemi explained that the ship which was anchored at about four nautical miles south of the Lagos fairway buoy, is believed to be a security threat to the country as it did not meet up with the Flag state requirement.
He pointed out that M.T Green Dolphin was discovered not to have the necessary document while the crew members and the cargo do not have the relevant papers for sailing. The NIMASA boss also said that the Captain of the ship could not actually explain where the vessel and its cargo was coming from, as well as where they were heading for.
The noted that official of the Nigerian Navy are presently guarding the vessel while the agency is taking responsibility for the welfare of the crew until after the investigation.