Salvors have found the human remains of three of the four missing crewmembers onboard the fire stricken 15,000 teu Maersk Honam boxship.


Maersk said it now assumed that the missing fourth seafarer was also dead taking the death toll to five from the huge fire that ripped through the bow of the one-year-old ship last week.


“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to families of our deceased colleagues. We share their sorrow and do our outmost to support them in this devastating time,” commented chief operating officer, Søren Toft said in a statement.


Previously reported missing were John Rey Begaso and Janrey Genvatin, both 21 years old and working as engine cadets from John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University whose families were notified of their fate. Another Filipino engine cadet Carl Vincent Chan was rescued who suffered injuries and was treated in a hospital.


A thorough search onboard the Maersk Honam continues. However, the active search and rescue mission at sea will be brought to a halt.


Two other men who had been in intensive care at a hospital in India are showing signs of improving.


“Our colleagues that were evacuated to local hospitals in varying conditions of health are improving and we are now preparing to bring them back to their families as their condition allows,” said Palle Laursen, chief technical officer for Maersk Line.


The India Marine Police is conducting a routine investigation of the incident, and they will be interviewing all crewmembers.


The Indian Coast Guard has hinted that the fire was a chemical one leading to questions once again about hazardous goods onboard.


The 330-metre, Singapore-flagged vessel caught fire on the night of 6 March and crew members jumped off after they were unable to control the blaze. Answering their distress call, a passing vessel rescued 23. A Thai sailor succumbed to injuries.


Following the death of the Thai crew member, Maersk diverted the ship carrying evacuated crew members to Kochi. Three injured crew members disembarked to a smaller ICG vessel, which took them to Thiruvanantapuram, where they were treated at a hospital.


Director General of Shipping Malini Shankar said ALS Ceres arrived at Kochi along with 19 crew members, who have been put up at a state guest house.


DGS officials are helping the sailors from multiple nationalities with the paperwork before they fly back to their respective destinations.


The ill-fated vessel is stationary in the Arabian Sea, about 390 nautical miles off Lakshadweep’s Agatti Island.


Toft had thanked the Indian agencies for all the help and added that the company will keep looking for the missing crew members till the last of the chances diminishes.


Asked about the cause of the fire, Toft said it is too early to “speculate” on that. The fire started from cargo hold number 3 on the vessel located close to the crew accommodation, he said.


Without specifying the quantity, Toft said a few of the over 7,800 containers on board had cargo classified as “dangerous”. He, however, said it is premature to blame them for the fire and added that shipping lines regularly carry such cargo in the containers.


The ship has a capacity to carry 15,000 standard 20-foot equivalent (TEUs) containers and was carrying over 12,000 TEUs on the voyage from Singapore to Suez when the incident occurred.

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