NEW DELHI, India - Carrying about 27 crew members, including 13 Indians, a Maersk container ship is said to have caught fire in the Arabian Sea near Agatti in the Lakshadweep Islands.
According to officials, the ship caught fire on Tuesday night and four members of the crew were reported missing.
Efforts have been on for several hours to put out the massive blaze
Officials said that the Maersk Honam was being captained by an Indian national, who reported a serious fire in one of its cargo holds while en route from Singapore towards the Suez.
The vessel was carrying 7,860 containers and caught fire when it was positioned around 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman.
The crew sent out a distress signal after being unsuccessful in their fire-fighting efforts.
The Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy also acted promptly upon receiving the distress call.
Further, container vessels MSC Lauren, Edith Mærsk and Gerd Mærsk, all en route in the Arabian Sea, diverted their routes to approach the area after receiving the distress call.
A total of 23 crew members were safely evacuated to the nearby vessel ALS Ceres, which arrived at the scene.
A Maersk spokesperson said in a statement, “Regrettably, four crew members remain missing. The fire on board the Maersk Honam continues and the situation of the vessel is very critical.”
The shipping branch of the Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk said that the ship was built in 2017 and has a nominal capacity of 15,262 TEU.
The ship reportedly sails under the Singapore flag.
On Wednesday afternoon, Soeren Toft, a senior official within the Copenhagen-based group, said three other vessels had diverted their route and headed to assist in the search and rescue.
A Maersk Line spokesperson added, "At this stage we have no reason to believe the fire was caused by an error in the ship's construction."
Further, Maersk's chief operating officer Soren Toft said the company will offer the families of missing crew members "all the support we can in this very difficult situation.”