Three hurt in ship fire

Three hurt in ship fire

Three crew were injured in a fire on a bulk carrier ship at Port Hedland yesterday.

The fire started about 3pm in the engine room of the South Korean-owned MV Marigold, berthed at Finucane Island.

Fire crews flooded the engine room with halon gas and sealed the hatch, while two tugboats were used to stabilise the 24-year-old ship.

It is understood a Burmese crewman and a South Korean chief engineer spent last night at Hedland Health Campus, where they were treated for burns.

One of them was in a serious condition.

Another Burmese crewman was treated for burns to his hands.

Two investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are expected to land in Port Hedland late tomorrow.

A spokesman from the Port Hedland Seafarers Centre said the crew were to be allowed back on the ship about 8.30 last night.

Seafarers Centre associate chaplain Garry South visited the injured men in hospital.

A wharf worker, who did not want to be named, said he saw smoke start billowing from the ship.

"I imagine they're seriously injured," he said.

"It was a big fire."

It was the second major shipping incident in Port Hedland in three weeks, after an Indian man lost part of his right leg when it was tangled in ropes.

International Transport Workers Federation co-ordinator Dean Summers said safety was of the utmost importance in a place as busy as Port Hedland.

"There always has to be a focus on safety above all else, but particularly in places like Port Hedland, where they're all about exporting iron ore as quickly as they can," he said.

"There are a lot of ships going back and forth, a lot of ships waiting to come in and there's pressure on everybody.

"The pressure on these workers is enormous and essentially they're an invisible workforce.

"Ships are getting bigger all the time, crews are getting smaller and something's got to give."

Mr Summers said the Burmese and South Korean crew were covered by an ITF agreement.

"If those seafarers come down to a hospital that might specialise in their injuries, we'll make sure we connect with them and their family, and make sure their company's doing what they should do," he said.

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