Three crew members on board an oil vessel that exploded last week off the coast of Nigeria have been found alive, while seven were still missing, according to the ship’s operator.
Ikemefuna Okafor, the executive officer of Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd, said the company would ensure the survivors receive the appropriate medical attention.
Okafor added that “one dead body was discovered in the vicinity”, but it was not immediately clear if it was of a crew member.
“The identity of the dead body is yet to be ascertained,” Okafor said. Efforts to locate the remaining crew members, “clean up and limit damage to the environment, and establish the cause of the explosion” were ongoing, he added.
The Trinity Spirit, a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, caught fire following an explosion on Wednesday off southern Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta state, raising fears of an environmental disaster. The blaze was extinguished a day later.
The vessel had a processing capacity of 22,000 barrels per day and a storage capacity of two million barrels, according to SEPCOL.
Idris Musa, of the country’s spill detection agency NOSDRA, told the AFP that “no spill incident” had taken place “other than emulsified oil in small quantity”.
Reuters reported that the burned-out remains of the Trinity Spirit, broke into two and partially submerged, but said there was no evidence of spilled crude.
Nnimmo Bassey, from Health of Mother Foundation, said the vessel had been in operation for more than 30 years, outliving its lifespan of 20 years, and should have been decommissioned.
Accidents are frequent in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, Africa’s largest crude producer, although they usually occur on land.