4 Chinese killed in ship explosion off northern Malaysia

Four Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion aboard a tanker in Indonesian waters off Penang island in northern Malaysia, a news report said Tuesday. A Filipino and a Singaporean were injured, it said.

Malaysia's northern region Marine Police Chief Zainul Abidin Hasan was quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency that the explosion from an exhaust pump on the 30,000-tonne (33,600-us ton) MV Suva occurred during welding work on the vessel.

The tanker, which was heading from Singapore to Saudi Arabia, doubled back toward Penang, about 215 nautical miles (247 miles) away, to send the injured to hospital, the Star newspaper said. The vessel was empty because it had earlier unloaded its cargo in Taiwan, the Bernama report added.

The four dead, identified as Liu Yongqian, 27, Kong Fanlin, 27, Xiu Xiaobin, 39 and Xia Zhibing, 29, were fatally hurt in the explosion, a Singaporean contractor from the ship known only as Lok was quoted as saying.

Lok said one of the men was scalded by hot steam while two drowned after falling into a water tank and the fourth died from his injuries after a fall.

Injured Filipino Jeselton Claver Adel, 25, and Singaporean Lim Puck Chow, 48, were being treated at a private hospital in Penang.

Zainul's office was not immediately reachable for further details Tuesday morning. Ship officers were not available for comment either. The report did not say how many crew members were aboard the ship or when it would continue its journey, reports the AP.

I.L.