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Cargo Ship Fire Leaves Two Missing

December 28, 1998

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) _ Fire erupted today in the engine room of a cargo vessel anchored near Galveston Bay, and two men were missing after the rest of the crew was rescued.

The Coast Guard received a mayday call at 5:18 a.m. today about a fire out of control in the engine room of the Violetta, said Coast Guard duty officer Steve Bigby. The cause of the blaze was not known.

Twenty-three seamen were rescued from the 570-foot vessel, registered in Cyprus. The ship’s chief engineer and a third-class engineer were missing. They were last seen in the engine room, said Steve Poulin, acting commander of Coast Guard Group Galveston.

Six hours after the blaze began, it continued to burn while Coast Guard officials awaited the arrival of firefighting boats. The fire was confined to the Violetta, and the area around the ship was cordoned off.

``The fire’s pretty big right now,″ Poulin said. ``White smoke is billowing out of the vessel and the fire appears to have progressed from the engine room to the bridge.″

There was no cargo aboard when the fire broke out, although the vessel is carrying 150-160 metric tons of diesel fuel. The ship’s owner, Cyclamen Marine Ltd., hired a firefighting company and an environmental company to aid at the scene.

The busy Houston Ship Channel remained open.

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