Gas leak makes it risky to search for missing crewman in Miri ship fire

MIRI: Search efforts to locate a missing crewman, after a fire broke out on an offshore drilling vessel near here has been hampered by a gas leak.

Crewman Mohamad Saiful Ashnar, who has been missing for 30 hours, was among 39 crew members onboard the MV Geo Technical when the fire happened at 3.15am on Tuesday (April 17) in the South China Sea, 27km off the coast of Baram, Sarawak.

Captain Mohd Fauzi Othman, from Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Miri, said search and rescue operations to find Mohamad Saiful, 31, from Negri Sembilan, have become risky.

"Nevertheless, the search is being done in the surrounding waters as well as inside the burnt ship. There is a possibility he may be inside the ship.

“However, we have to be very cautious due to the gas leak. Bomba (fire brigade) personnel are also helping in the search effort inside the ship,” he said.

The MMEA, Malaysian Coast Guard, Bomba Miri and Police Airwing are coordinating the search effort.

Petronas said in a statement Tuesday that 38 crew members were rescued, with two crew members sustaining injuries.

The two injured crew are currently receiving medical assistance in Miri Hospital.

The crew onboard comprised 33 Malaysians, five Indonesians and a Thai national.

The cause of the fire is still being probed, said Petronas.