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UPDATE 2: Nisshin Maru Fire

15 February 2007

A fire which broke out in the processing area of the Japanese whale research vessel Nisshin Maru has been contained although it is still too early to confirm that it is fully extinguished.

The missing crew member remains unaccounted for.

At this stage, there is no danger of fuel and/or oil from the Nisshin Maru being leaked into the Southern Ocean. The area in which the fire broke out has been contained and is not located near the fuel holds.

The fire has reduced in intensity and the temperature of the Nisshin Maru deck above where the fire was located is much cooler. Water has been pumped into the area where the fire took hold.

The Director-General of the Institute of Cetacean Research, Dr Hiroshi Hatanaka, said that early this afternoon (Antarctic time) crew members attempted to enter the sealed area that contains the fire but the smoke and heat was too intense to enter.

The evacuated personnel remain on board the other Japanese vessels. Around 30 people remain on the Nisshin Maru.

The cause of the fire is still unknown and further investigations should reveal the cause. Damage assessments will be fully carried out once personnel are able to enter the damaged areas.

A decision on continuing with the research programme will be made once the assessment has been completed.

An update will be provided when more information becomes available.


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