14 dead as two ships catch fire in Kerch Strait off Russia

At least 14 persons died when two ships carrying Indian, Turkish and Libyan crew members have caught fire in the Kerch Strait separating Crimea from Russia. According to medi are ports, the fire broke out on Monday off Russia’s territorial waters.

Both vessels were flying Tanzanian flags. One of them was a liquefied natural gas carrier and another one was a tanker. The fire broke out as the two ships were transferring fuel from one to the other.

One of the ships, the Candy, had a 17-member crew, including nine Turkish citizens and eight Indian nationals. The other one, the Maestro, had 15-member crew, including seven Turkish nationals, seven Indian citizens and an intern from Libya, Russian news agency Tass quoted maritime authority as saying.

At least 11 sailors have died, Russian Maritime Agency said was quoted by RT news, a Russian television network. “Presumably, an explosion occurred (on one of the vessels). Then the fire spread to another vessel. A rescue tug is en route,” said a spokesman for the Russian Maritime Agency.

Some three dozen sailors managed to escape the burning ships by jumping off the vessels. Twelve persons have so far been rescued from the sea. Nine sailors are still listed as missing, the spokesperson said. Severe weather conditions at sea have prevented rescue ships from taking victims to the shore for medical treatment, the report added.

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