Published: Tue, January 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Rescuers Started Extinguishing Kerch Strait Tanker Fire - Marine Rescue Service

Rescuers Started Extinguishing Kerch Strait Tanker Fire - Marine Rescue Service

The ships, the Kandy and the Maestro, were sailing under the flag of Tanzania and had crews of nationals from India and Turkey.

"There are 11 bodies", said Alexei Kravchenko, spokesman for Russia's Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport.

Unconfirmed Russian media reports say 14 people have been killed, with an unknown number still in need of rescue. One of them, the Candy, had a crew of 17, including nine Turkish citizens and eight Indian nationals. "The search and rescue operation continues", the Maritime Rescue co-ordination Center said in a statement.

It was reported earlier that the two vessels caught fire after an explosion.

The strait lies off Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, which Russian Federation annexed in 2014.

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Earlier, two vessels with a total of 31 members on board caught fire while moving through the Kerch Strait separating Crimea from mainland Russian Federation.

Maritime traffic was not affected by the incident and navigation through the Kerch Strait is still open, the director of the Crimean Sea Ports said.

The incident has occurred in neutral waters outside the contested Kerch Strait, linking the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea.

It's also the the closest point of access for Russian Federation to Crimea, a peninsula Moscow annexed in 2014.

The Kerch Strait passes between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and sparked global intention this year due to a clash between Russian Federation and Ukraine.

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