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Mon 19 Mar 2012 11:51 AM

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Bahrain waters 'safe' following Saudi tanker fire

MV Stolt Valor burnt up near coast of island last week, killing one crew member

Bahrain waters 'safe' following Saudi tanker fire
The fire had threatened to cause a chemical leak near the Bahrain coast (image for illustrative purposes only)

Bahraini authorities have deemed the Gulf state's waters safe following a fire on a Saudi Arabian tanker, which previously threatened to cause a chemical leak just 66 miles from the island's shores.

The vessel MV Stolt Valor went up in flames off the coast of Jubail on March 15 following an explosion on-board, but continues to burn due to its chemical load, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

Officials in the Gulf state said strong winds had moved the Liberian-flagged vessel south, closer to Bahrain, sparking fears of a chemical leak and damage to marine life.

However, a commission in the country has since reassured the public that no chemical leak had occurred and the burning tanker was no danger to Bahrain's regional waters.

Saudi papers have reported that the Saudi Coast Guard is helping to cool the external body of the ship with fire hoses in a bid to extinguish the fire.

One crew member, a Philippines national, is thought to have died in the incident. A further 24 have been rescued and brought to the Bahraini capital Manama.

Owner and operator of the ship Stolt Tankers B.V. is a subsidiary of Stolt-Nielsen Limited. Earlier reports said the US Navy received a distress call from the vessel, but since the tanker caught fire in international waters, the ship owners are expected to shoulder all legal responsibility.

While the tanker continues to burn the commission in Bahrain will monitor its movement and prepare for an emergency.

Water desalination plants will also be tested on a regular basis to ensure no pollution has occurred.

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