Maritime safety authority wants answers after fatal Durban ship blaze

21 February 2019 - 06:30 By Lwandile Bhengu
An investigation into what caused a fire on a ship at Durban's repair dock last Thursday is underway.
An investigation into what caused a fire on a ship at Durban's repair dock last Thursday is underway.
Image: Rescue Care

The SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) says a preliminary investigation into what started a fire that claimed six lives at the Durban port last Thursday is underway.

However, outcomes of the preliminary probe are expected only at the end of the week.

The Mozambican vessel started burning in the early hours of Thursday morning, leaving six dead and three injured. It was berthed at the Transnet repair dock for scheduled maintenance.

"It is going to take us at least until the end of this week to determine where the fire started and perhaps what started it," said acting Samsa CEO Sobantu Tilayi. 

Tilayi also said that they had started an interview process with the crew of the vessel to determine what caused the fire and that the investigation was solely being run the marine authority.

"We need to determine the trigger of the fire but our difficulty is that it was so intense and it spread so quickly, that our sense is that something fuelled the fire. We need to establish what fuelled the fire," he said.

He said that although it was a private vessel, it was normal that repairs were being conducted at the Transnet dock as it was a "public or common user facility".  

He said that Samsa was not in a position to estimate the cost of the damage to the ship but said that the vessel would be a complete right-off. 

"From where we standing, it looks like a total constructive loss but the insurance must make that determination not us," he said.

Meanwhile, Rescue Care spokesperson Garrith Jamieson said that the three people who were taken to hospital had sustained minor injuries.


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