9 Jan 2019

Hong Kong oil tanker blast: One dead as rescue operation continue

3:43 pm on 9 January 2019

An oil tanker has caught fire in Hong Kong's southern waters, creating a blast that shook windows several kilometres away and killing a crew member.

A rescue boat puts out fire that occurred on an oil tanker off Hong Kong's Lamma Island, Jan. 8, 2019.

A rescue boat fights a fire on a ship belived to be the Aulac Fortune off Hong Kong's Lamma Island. Photo: AFP / Xinhua News Agency

Hong Kong police said at least 21 people had been rescued from the site about one nautical mile south of Lamma Island.

"There are still some crew that haven't been saved," a police spokesperson said.

She was not immediately able to provide more details including the name of the tanker, or its size.

A photo of the coastal oil tanker posted on a police Facebook page showed it listing, with black smoke pouring from the hull. The name Aulac Fortune could be seen on the stern.

The ship is a small 17,500 deadweight-tonne oil product tanker built in 2010 sailing under a Vietnamese flag, according

to data from Marine Traffic.

Smoke rises from an oil tanker believed to be the Aulac Fortune as it tilts to one side after it exploded in the waters near Hong Kong.

Photo: AFP / Hong Kong Police

Ship tracking data showed Aulac Fortune last loaded 6000 tonnes of gasoline, most of which was delivered to Guangzhou between 6 and 7 January.

It later arrived south of Lamma Island and sent its position from there about 1pm Hong Kong time.

Residents of the nearby island of Lantau said they heard a big blast which rattled doors and windows.

"It felt like when there is a strong typhoon, when the wind shakes your doors violently. It was really strong," said the woman, Rhea Nee.

"I thought maybe there was an earthquake. I saw my neighbours all coming out of their houses. The windows of my house were shaking."