Six crewmen were treated for burns after a fire on a Taiwanese fishing vessel Picture: SAMSA

Six crewmen manning a Taiwanese vessel between Durban and Madagascar were treated for burns in Durban on Tuesday after their vessel caught alight and they had to be rescued.

The SA Maritime Safety Authority co-ordinated the rescue effort in the Indian Ocean after the fishing vessel, the Hsiang Fuh No 6, with a crew of 30 on board, caught fire on Sunday, said the authority.

It said the Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre in Cape Town was notified that a container ship, the Ever Diadem, spotted the vessel about 10km away from its position. 

“The Hsiang Fuh was on fire and its crew were abandoning ship on two life rafts about 736km East-North-East from Durban and 496km from the closest shore.”

The centre requested the Ever Diadem to recover the survivors. 

“An urgent request message was relayed for other vessels in the vicinity to assist in the rescue,” said the authority.

This call was answered by bulk carriers Hampton Bay and SBI Antares. Both had survivors on board and were waiting to enter the Port of Durban.

“All the survivors were picked up – 16 crew by the Ever Diadem and 14 by the SBI Antares. Both vessels proceeded to Durban to disembark the survivors. A warning was issued for the abandoned and unmanned vessel still adrift.”

The authority said arrangements for the safe delivery and repatriation of the sailors, who hailed from The Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam, would be undertaken.

The air medical evacuation was done with the assistance of the 
SA Air Force and Netcare paramedics. 

National Sea Rescue Institute Durban provided surface support for the rescue of one crew member who sustained serious burns.

The institute said it was alerted to the unfolding crisis on Tuesday. 

“It appears that only (on Tuesday morning) it had been revealed that one survivor, a 29-year-old Filipino, was reported to be suffering burns (and was) in a serious condition on board one of the ships,” said deputy station commander Andre Fletcher.

He said its sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II, accompanied by a Netcare 911 rescue paramedic, was launched and met the ship carrying the victim.

“The injured sailor was treated for severe burns, suffering approximately 40% second and third degree burns, and he was stabilised. A second patient, a 63-year-old Chinese survivor, was treated for soft tissue injuries to his right knee.”

The two ships with all remaining survivors of the trawler who were not injured remain at anchorage off-shore at the Port of Durban, he said.

“The ships are waiting for permission from the Transnet National Ports Authority to enter port, where once safely berthed the survivors will disembark into the care of authorities.”

The Mercury