Ship sinks off Miri, two dead, 184 others rescued

MIRI (THE STAR) – Huge waves battered a ship in the raging South China Sea offshore Miri in northern Sarawak causing panic and chaos among the 187 crew members on board yesterday. Two died, one was injured and 184 others were rescued after their ship and an oil platform were damaged in the 6.45am incident at a Petronas oil rig located 7.7 nautical miles off Kuala Baram near Miri city.

The injured rescued survivor was flown by Petronas helicopter to the Miri Hospital. The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), in its latest updates, said as at noon yesterday, the latest information is that there were 185 Malaysian crew members and two Indonesians on board the ship.

Two are confirmed dead while another injured person has been flown to the Miri Hospital while all the rest have been rescued and are being taken to shore.

MMEA Director-General Mohd Zubil Mat Som said the operation scene was seeing waves of up to four metres high.

“The sea was raging with waves of 3.5 to four metres,” Zubil said.

The ship, Dayang Topaz, was hired by Petronas, and initial probes showed that its anchor cable to the oil platform snapped after being battered by huge waves, he said.

The ship then rammed into Platform Baram B, he added.

Some 125 crew members jumped into the sea after the ship was overwhelmed by the waves but 62 crew members were still clinging on board, he added.

Those floating in the waves were rescued by numerous vessels who had joined the MMEA in the rescue ops, he said. The ship has been saved from sinking further and the rescued crew members are being taken ashore.

“Damage to the platform and the ship are being probed.

“There is no oil spill found at the site,” he said.

Zubil thanked those ships who had helped out in the rescue ops.

He praised those who had responded fast to the distress call from Dayang Topaz and who had rushed to the scene to help rescue those floating in the sea.

Sarawak is facing the onslaught of the stormy “landas” season now which is the equivalent of the monsoon season in the east coast of the peninsula.

Crew members of Dayang Topaz being rescued after their ship started sinking in the South China Sea offshore of Miri yesterday. PHOTO: THE STAR