Fire breaks out on tanker in Gulf of Riga

A fire has started on the Zircon tanker in the Gulf of Riga that carries over 7,000 tons of diesel fuel, the Latvian Coast Guard reported.

Around 11 a.m. today the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center of the Latvian Coast Guard learned there was a fire aboard a tanker in the Gulf of Riga.

The fire is under control now but the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center has sent a coast guard vessel and an Air Force helicopter to the scene to monitor the situation and to be on standby, should people have to be evacuated from the ship.

The Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center also asked the Riga port to send a tugboat to the scene to serve as a base for the firefighters of the Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service supporting the firefighting operation.

According to the information on the internet, the Zircon was built in 1993. It sails under the Latvian flag, and its home port is Riga. The Zircon, which was on its way from Riga to Denmark, is now at sea between Berzciems and Engure towns on Latvia's western coast.

Liva Veita, a spokeswoman for the Latvian Coast Guard, said that the tugboat from the Riga port was on its way to the scene but for now there has been no request for evacuation of the crew of 17 people and no one had been harmed in the fire. Although the tanker carries over 7,000 tons of diesel fuel, there is no danger of an oil spill at the moment.

The fire had broken out in the engine room of the tanker and is being extinguished by the crew.

Although no oil products had been spilled, the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center has called a meeting of the special committee comprising representatives of different competent Latvian authorities to discuss response in case of a spill.

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