Sailors hurt in Alcaraz fire in stable condition

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Two sailors who were injured when the BRP Ramon Alcaraz caught fire as it was sailing through the Indian Ocean last week are now in stable condition.

The vessel was carrying personal protective equipment from Oman when it figured in the accident.

Second Class engineman Alvin Aldecoa is recovering in the ship while 2/C machine repairman Joemari Bag-o was airlifted to a burn treatment facility at the Sanjivani Naval Hospital of the Indian Navy ship for proper treatment.

Aldecoa and Bag-o suffered superficial and second degree burns, respectively, according to Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, chief of the Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office.

“Their families have been notified of their situation. All other personnel onboard  are safe and secured,” Roxas said.

Despite the incident, Alcaraz managed to return to the Port of Cochin in India, where it is currently moored.

The vessel is undergoing assessment to determine the damage of the fire that broke out in its main engine room, the PN  said.

Authorities are looking at oil leakage as the cause of the blaze.

Based on initial assessment, the ship’s main engine must undergo repair to ensure seaworthiness and safety of crewmembers before it could be allowed to sail.

The PN thanked its Indian counterpart for responding to the incident and providing assistance.

It also commended the Filipino sailors for acting swiftly to control the fire.

Repair and restoration of the Alcaraz may take 21 days due to restraint brought by the coronavirus disease 2019.

The PN expressed hope the repair would be completed sooner than expected.

Roxas said the Navy is assessing the extent of damage and the corresponding cost that would be incurred for the repair of the vessel.

She said the extended stay of Alcaraz at the port would provide time for the injured sailors to recover and complete the hauling of the remaining 800,000 pieces of face masks.

Meanwhile, the BRP Davao del Sur is expected to arrive in Manila on May 23 with Filipino repatriates on board and 200,000 pieces of donated face masks.

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