One man killed and two others declared missing after an oil tanker caught fire while it was being refueled off Hong Kong on Tuesday, sending a huge cloud of dark smoke billowing into the air.
Twenty-three people were rescued after those on board the stricken Vietnamese-listed vessel either fell or jumped into the sea, police said.
Some of the victims suffered burns, with four people injured, one of them seriously.
Fears of a potential environmental catastrophe in a busy shipping channel also known for porpoises and turtles were dampened late Tuesday after fire officials said no oil leak has yet to be detected from the vessel.
Fire department commander Yiu Men-yeung said the container ship was about to be refueled by an oil barge when the accident occurred.
He told reporters that according to the crew on the barge, they were “connecting the hoses for refueling for the oil tanker, and then there were three explosions”, before the ship burst into flames.
Yiu added that the vessel, which was on its way from the southern Chinese industrial city of Dongguan to Thailand, was not at risk of sinking. It took around five hours for firefighters to put out the blaze.
Witnesses described feeling shockwaves when the explosions tore through the ship.