World News

At least 11 killed after two ships catch fire in Kerch Strait

At least 11 killed after two ships catch fire in Kerch Strait

One of them was a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier and another one was a tanker.

The crews of the affected ships included Turkish and Indian nationals, the emergency services said, adding that there were no Russian sailors.

The fire broke out when one vessel was transferring fuel to the other, driving both crews to jump overboard, said Kravchenko.

Preliminary reports said the 31 are citizens of India and Turkey.

Both vessels were flying Tanzanian flags. "A rescue tug is en route", said a spokesman for the Russian Maritime Agency. Another 10 people remain missing, according to a Russian naval official quoted by the Interfax news agency.

More news: Parts of the state in wind chill advisories, warnings through noon Sunday

Video shows a huge column of smoke rising from the scene, with two other ships nearby - though it is unclear if these were impacted by the blast and fire. The fire on ships continues blazing.

Some sailors managed to escape the burning ships by jumping off the vessels. At least 11 people died in the incident and 12 have so far been rescued from the sea.

The Kerch Strait, located between Russian-annexed Crimea and southern Russia, controls access from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea, which has Ukrainian and Russian ports.

The Kerch Strait is a key waterway that holds strategic importance for both Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Three vessels from Kiev were seized in a major incident previous year, reigniting fears of open conflict in the Black Sea.