Salvage operations takes four lives in Malaysian shipwreck

Eight casualties have been recorded during salvage operations in Onnekas One Vessel

The Police in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue have suspended all operations to salvage the Malaysian sunken vessel ‘Onnekas One’, after fourdivers died from toxic fumes. Eight casualties have been recorded during salvage operations in Onnekas One Vessel. Police officials and local civil defense forces blockaded the scene to prevent local residents from entering the shipwreck area, 500m off the coast of Thua Thien-Hue.

At 4.30 pm on June 19, military and police forces accessed and took the body of 33-year-old Van Cong Than, the last of the four dead divers who had been found in the ballast hold of the vessel.

The Central Environment Institution in Da Nang City–a division of the Ministry of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs–has sent experts to Vinh Thanh Commune in Phu Vang District to take samples for testing to determine the name of the toxic gas which killed the four divers.

According to Le Van Phuong, deputy head of the Border Military Headquarters in Thua Thien-Hue Province, the four divers did not suspect there was toxic gas in the ballast hold of the vessel. They thus did not bring their protective gear.

Thua Thien-Hue Province and Phu Vang District have assisted the families of each dead diver with VND4 million for now.

Ben Luc Salvage Company, where the four divers worked, has arranged transport of the victims bodies back to their hometowns in the Mekong Delta, for burial.

The Onnekas One oil vessel suffered engine failure. While it was being towed to Hainan Province in China for repairs, high waves broke the tow cables and tore the vessel into two.

The vessel body went adrift on waters off Quang Cong Commune in Quang Dien District while its bow floated to sea off Vinh Thanh Commune of Phu Vang District in Thua Thien-Hue Province.

The vessel’s owner hired Saigon Shipbuilding and Marine Industry Company for salvage operations. This company then hired the Ben Luc Salvage Company from the Mekong Delta province of Long An to do the work.

While workers from Ben Luc Company were pumping water out from the cockpit of the Onnekas One Vessel, a pipe broke in the ballast hold on June 18. A worker dived to repair the broken pipe and died of gas poisoning. Three others jumped into the water to save their co-worker and met the same fate.

The dead workers include 38-year-old Vo Van Thuan from Long An Province, 19-year-old Pham Van Hiep from Tien Giang, 39-year-old Pham Van Manh from Ben Luc and 33-year-old Van Cong Than from Long An Province.

By 3pm on the same day, rescue forces pulled three of the dead workers out of the vessel.

Four others from the Ben Luc Company were also choking while doing rescue operations. They were rushed to Hue General Hospital for emergency aid and have since recovered.