CYPRUS: Five crew rescued after explosion on Maltese-flagged oil tanker

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Five crew were injured and taken to hospital following an explosion on a Maltese-flagged oil tanker anchored off the southern coast of Cyprus, Cypriot authorities said Saturday.

Police said a fire started on the ship following an explosion as the oil and chemical tanker was anchored off the coast in the Zygi area not far from the resort town of Larnaca.

Marine police, a tug boat and a helicopter were deployed at the scene of the incident – following a distress call – with five crew being picked from the sea and taken to hospital.

Five members of the crew of the Maltese-flagged oil tanker "Athlos" fell into the sea after a fire and then an explosion on board the ship, they were collected by the rescue services and transferred to hospital,” said the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC).

Two of the injured were taken to the capital Nicosia as they are in a more serious condition suffering from burns while the other three were taken to Limassol hospital along the coast as a precautionary medical measure.

There was an explosion on board the Athlos at around 9.30 am local time and the subsequent fire was extinguished by the 17 crew on board.

“The ship was 1 nautical mile east from Zygi fishing shelter at 200 meters from the coast and was not carrying dangerous cargo,” said JRCC.

“It had sailed to Cyprus with 17 crew (7 Greeks, 9 Indians and 1 Georgian) and was due to depart for Greece on December 29,” it added.

Other boats are in the area to deal with any possible oil spill, said Cypriot authorities.

Efforts were underway to tow the 4908 gross tonnage vessel built in 2010, to a nearby fishing harbour or to ensure it is safely grounded as the Athlos was tilting, said authorities.