By Trisha La Place

The Observer

A Panamanian vessel, more than 650 feet long, caught fire last Sunday in the federation’s territorial waters.

The Maritime Rescue Co-ordination of Martinique first responded to the disaster. The St Kitts-Nevis coast guards were then alerted to gave assistance.

According to director of Maritime Affairs, McClean Hobson, the MV Chang exploded in flames between around midnight last Saturday.

It was reported that the fire broke out in the engine room of the vessel, damaging 70 percent of the cabins and broilers.

Hobson said due to the quick response of the local coast guard and the St. Eustatius Tug Apollo, the fire was easily controlled.

Hobson stated according to Captain Chang Zhang Jialu the engines rooms were sealed off and the carbon dioxide system was then activated to try help to contain the fire.

The mess and pump were used to supply water.

Coast guard officials were able to extinguish the fire by 8:45 a.m. that Sunday.

Hobson said the Panamanian vessel had 26 crew members aboard and that two received minor injuries and were immediately treated aboard one of the coast guard ship.

An engine assessment was made by the coast guard and the vessel left the federation about 3:10 p.m. to St. Eustatius that day.

The MV Chang An was traveling from China with a load of copper heading to Netherlands when the explosion took place.

Hobson said about a month ago a 47-foot catamaran the SV Philae caught fire in Sandy Point while taking students on a dive excursion.

He pointed out that dangerous accidents such of these underline the importance of the coast guard of the federation. Hobson said there is a need for continued training in fire and rescue or any other types of emergencies at sea.