03 FEB 2020
The fire on board the VLCC Zoha 1 on Wednesday evening claimed the lives of two seafarers and injured eight others, according to Indian officials.
The Zoha 1 caught fire about 20 miles off the coast of Sharjah, UAE on Wednesday, sending up a plume of smoke visible from the city’s waterfront. Indian consular officials told Gulf News that the blaze killed two Indian nationals. Eight other people, including two Indian seafarers, were injured in the accident, and three remain missing.
Initial reports from UAE state media on Wednesday had indicated that all of the crew had been safely rescued.
At the time of the fire, there were 44 workers and 12 crewmembers on board the Zoha 1. Consular officials told Gulf News that the work team was preparing the tanker for scrapping at the time of the incident.
Video from the scene indicates that the VLCC was not in laden condition at the time of the fire. The UAE’s Federal Transport Authority has confirmed that the Zoha 1 is not carrying cargo.
The 300,000 dwt Zoha 1 appears to have been stationary off the coast of Sharjah for at least the past year, and previous reports indicate that her tenure in the area may be longer. In 2018, her crew issued a desperate plea for assistance, claiming that they had been stranded since 2017 due to a legal dispute involving the vessel’s owner. At the time, they asserted that they had not been paid in months and that they did not know when they might be able to expect a crew change.