Denmark ship on fire in Arabian Sea, 4 sailors missing

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Four people are missing after "a serious fire" erupted on a Singapore-flagged cargo ship in the Arabian Sea belonging to the shipping branch of the Danish group A.P. Moller-Maersk, authorities said Wednesday.

Maersk Line says the fire broke out late Tuesday on Maersk Honam and firefighter efforts were "unsuccessful."

"The crew sent out a distress signal and a total of 23 crew members were safely evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres," the shipper said in a statement.

Maersk Line says the fire is still burning and "the situation of the vessel is very critical."

The shipper initially described the vessel as being about 1,000 miles off the coast of Oman. The Indian Coast Guard put the ship near the Agatti Island, some 650 nautical miles from the port city of Kochi in India.

The Press Trust of India news agency said one of the missing sailors was Indian and that authorities believe the fire started in one of the many shipping containers on board the vessel.

The cause of the blaze is still unknown. Denmark's TV2 said the ship was transporting "dangerous cargo" without giving further details.

"Two crew members (were) currently receiving medical first aid onboard the ALS Ceres," said Toft, adding Maersk will offer the families of missing crew members "all the support we can in this very difficult situation."

The nationalities of the 27 crew members on the Singapore-flagged Maersk Honam include 13 from India, nine from the Philippines, two from Thailand, and one from Romania, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

The vessel, built in 2017, is carrying 7860 containers. The Maersk Honam has a nominal capacity of 15262 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit).

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In September, another cargo ship loaded with construction material sank off the Omani coast, though all 20 sailors abroad the vessel survived.

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.