Cambodia-Flagged Ship Burns Near Russia Catches Fire

Fire broke out on board a Cambodian-registered ship off the east coast of Russia Monday night and was still burning Thurs­day, news agencies reported—the latest in a series of Cambo­dian-registered vessels that have been found unseaworthy, in­volved in accidents or discovered with illicit cargo over the years.

All 19 Russian and South Ko­rean crew members on the ship, a South Korean-owned vessel called the Bintang Haraban, were rescued by a Russian fishing vessel on Monday, The Associated Press reported.

The 120-meter-long ship was carrying 8,000 cubic meters of timber across the Sea of Japan, starting from Russia’s Sakhalin island, when a boiler in its engine room exploded to spark the fire, AP reported. On Thursday, Rus­sia’s ITAR-TASS news agency reported that the ship was still burning—its structure glowing red-hot—and still afloat, listing 25 degrees and giving off a huge column of black smoke.

Russian rescuers tried to fight the fire Wednesday, but from 15 meters away their water jets evaporated before reaching the ship, the Russian agency reported.

Another Cambodian-flagged ship, the Sea Runner, was de­tained in a British port recently for safety violations. Critics say the Cambodian Ship Registry, administered by the Singapore-based Cambodia Shipping Corp, doesn’t sufficiently check to make sure its vessels are safe and in­volved in legitimate business.

In June, the Cambodian-flagged Winner was seized carrying massive amounts of cocaine by the French navy off the west coast of Africa, prompting the Cam­bodian government to investigate the CSC.

General Sok Phal, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Thursday that the investigation is still under way and will be finished next week.


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