A ship carrying 5,600 tons of oil was burning off the central province of Quang Nam on Friday, threatening the waters with a massive oil spill.
Colonel Le Thanh Tung, head of Quang Nam's Border Guard Division, said the Phuong Nam Star ship was on its way from Dung Quat port in the central province Quang Ngai to the northern city of Hai Phong when the incident occurred.
Upon detecting the fire, 22 people onboard, including 19 crewmen, jumped into the sea and were rescued about one hour later by the border guard division, Tung said.
Currently, all fishing boats are restricted from entering the site of the troubled ship, which is at risk of exploding, Tuoi Tre quoted Tung as saying on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Dinh Van Thu, vice chairman of Quang Nam's People's Committee, said authorities have sent letters to the Center for Oil Spill Reaction and the National Center for Search and Rescue for help.
If an oil spill occurs, it would be disastrous for Quang Nam's waters, especially Cu Lao Cham, a World Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO, Thu said.
In its report, the newspaper also quoted Tran Dong Phuong, captain of Phuong Nam Star, as saying that the incident was the result of an electrical leakage.
Efforts to rescue the ship and contain an oil spill are underway.