TOKYO, May 17 (Itar-Tass) - Two Russian sailors injured in a fire on Thursday on the Taigan ship anchored at the port of Wakkanai on the Hokkaido Island are currently undergoing treatment at Japanese hospitals. One of the sailors is in a serious condition, Russian Consul General in Sapporo Vasily Saplin told Itar-Tass on Friday.
Yuri Lobok, 59, has suffered serious burns to the upper body, he is in an intensive care unit of the Red Cross hospital in the city of Asahikawa, where he was taken by helicopter,” the diplomat said. “The fire victim remains conscious. Another sailor, Vladimir Lartsev, with burns of the upper respiratory tract is at hospital in Wakkanai. According to doctors, he will stay there for about a week.”
Vasily Saplin said that the Russian Consulate General in Sapporo is already receiving inquiries from the relatives of the sailors from the Taigan ship. According to him, the crew of the burnt cargo ship is currently accommodated on another Russian vessel in the port of Wakkanai. The fact that all the vessel documents and personal documents have burnt on the Taigan ship is impeding the investigation of the incident, the Consul General said.
Japanese authorities on Friday launched a full-scale investigation into the cases of the fire on the ship. Six sailors were killed in the accident - all of them were citizens of the Russian Federation, in particular, coming from Sakhalin and the Primorsky Territory. An officer of the Russian Consulate General in Sapporo the powers of which extend to the island of Hokkaido is beginning to work in Wakkanai on Friday.
The local branch of the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency told Itar-Tass that the fire was particularly intense in the stern of the ship. The cabins and the pilot house badly burnt there. However, the causes of the fire have not yet been established.
Four bodies were found in the cabins. One was found in the pilot house. Another sailor died when he was apparently trying to get out through a porthole at the stern of the ship. The engine room of the Taigan ship was reportedly not damaged.
In addition to the police and fire fighting departments, two officials of Japan Transport Safety Board will take part in the investigation of the causes of the incident.
The Taigan vessel with a displacement of 497 tonnes on May 14 under the Cambodian flag arrived at Wakkanai on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido with a load of crabs from the port of Korsakov on Sakhalin. On May 17, the ship was to depart for home. Initially, there were 14 Russian citizens and four Ukrainians on board the ship. Five more Russians joined the vessel’s crew in Wakkanai.
After the fire broke out at about 02:00 a.m., local time, Thursday (about 21:00 MSK, Wednesday), most of the crew, including the captain, Vitaly Saltaganov, 47, left the ship on their own.
According to rescuers, the fact that the ship is divided into numerous compartments where it was difficult to direct the flow of water from fire engines greatly complicated the situation. During the blaze extinguishing operation the Taigan ship heavily tilted, but remained afloat. The fire was raging on the vessel for more than 11 hours. Six fire engines and two boats of the Japanese Maritime Safety Agency were engaged in the fire extinguishing efforts.