KENT, Sierra Leone, April 21 A fire on board a
South Korean trawler fishing off the coast of Sierra Leone
forced the crew to abandon ship, fleeing onto boats that came to
their rescue, its captain told Reuters on Monday.
The fire on the 70-foot (21-metre) Osito 89 broke out in the
engine room at 0400 GMT on Sunday about five nautical miles off
the town of Kent, south of the Sierra Leonean capital Freetown.
Thick smoke billowed from the vessel on Monday and flames
rose from the hull, according to a Reuters witness.
"The fire became wild as it spread into the captain's bridge
so I had no alternative but to send an SOS to our company's
office," Captain Seak Kim Che said.
Motor boats arrived on the scene and rescued the crew, the
captain said. There were no casualties.
Two South Koreans, two Chinese and two Indonesian fishermen
were rescued, while the 18 Sierra Leonean fishermen who also
worked on the ship were not on board at the time, he said.
The South Korean-flagged ship is owned by Chung Gang, a
private fishing company owned by citizens in both South Korea
and Sierra Leone, Captain Seak said.
Fishing is a major industry in Sierra Leone.
(Reporting by Christo Johnson; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg
and Raissa Kasolowsky)